FREDONIA - With Gov. Andrew Cuomo releasing his proposed state budget, many school districts around the area are researching the amount of state aid they will receive. Primary education institutions are not the only ones affected by the budget; colleges, including SUNY?Fredonia, also receive funding from the state.
SUNY Fredonia President Virginia Horvath has looked at Cuomo's proposed budget and believes it is "reassuring." In Cuomo's proposed budget are $55 million in competitive grants for SUNY schools as well as a plan to increase public college tuition. Horvath understands the governor is in a difficult position with the problems we face as a state.
"I heard just the other day about the shortfall at the state level. They are having to work to address that and I think this governor has made it very clear he really wants us to have a balanced budget.
"It puts (the state) in a difficult position but I think they are doing their best to behave responsibly and communicate about what the state is and isn't able to support. I have sympathy for them for what happens when you have fewer dollars than you thought. I think the governor is doing the best he can in the short fall situation to make sure state agencies are meeting the needs of people in the state," she continued.
The competitive grants are a part of the SUNY 2020 plan, a cooperative plan between the governor's office and SUNY colleges "to put state dollars behind the work universities are doing to make a difference in communities," Horvath said. The first round of grant money was for the bigger SUNY universities such as the University at Buffalo or University at Albany. The new money will be for second round of grants and will be available for comprehensive universities, such as Fredonia.
The grant that SUNY Fredonia is seeking is for a research and learning center on Lake Erie which would be a partnership between SUNY Fredonia, the city of Dunkirk, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department and the state Department of Conservation. According to Horvath, the college has not heard official word on the grant.
"We're still hopeful and think it's a great plan," she said. "I think the governor is eager ... for public universities to be taking a real stance to engage people in the community and have it make a difference."
The university is also looking for grants to be used for the technology incubator. She said there will be some grants are available to promote small business development and the college will be looking into all options.
The incubator has 15 tenants currently and they are spending time to try to raise funds for those businesses. Horvath said if one-third of those businesses succeed, that will be five new businesses in the area.
"That's the kind of thing we're hoping to do. We'll be looking in any pockets that we may think might have change in them to make sure we're working to make a difference in Dunkirk," Horvath said.
SUNY Fredonia is also in its third year of a five-year rational tuition plan which will increase tuition. Tuition for SUNY campuses is set by legislature following recommendations from the Board of Trustees.
"We know next fall that the tuition here at Fredonia will be $150 more each semester," Horvath said. "You think of the difference in operating costs ... for us just to meet the costs of operation and instruction (tuition increase) it's helpful for us. We were glad (Cuomo is) continually the commitment that was made for the rational tuition plan."
Horvath said the college is mindful of the tuition increases and use tuition to provide a good quality education for all students. The university also helps students with financial aid and paying for college.