Officials mull tuition hikes, economic development at SUNY

"I think that in every instance that money is generated for a certain purpose should be committed to that purpose," she said. "Whether it's for colleges, snowmobile trails, or even transportation and infrastructure."

Dr. Carol Brown is president of North Country Community College, which is located in Saranac Lake and has campuses in Malone and Ticonderoga. She says community colleges won't be subjected to tuition hikes, as rates are set by independent boards of trustees.

"In terms of tuition, he was focused on the four-year schools, as their tuition is set by the state Legislature," Brown said. "Our tuition is set by the board of trustees. Having said that, we have to be mindful - and very responsible in anything we do - to remember what it costs for our students to go to school and the needs they have up here."

And while SUNY administrators are concerned about a potential tuition hike, they're also encouraged that Cuomo is aiming to utilize SUNY schools in order to enhance the state's economy.

SUNY will play a large role in the creation of 10 regional economic development councils, which Cuomo hopes will spur job creation throughout the state.

Brown says two and four year schools can play a huge role in turning around a stagnant economy.

"That's what we're known for," she said. "The focus for community colleges has always been to support an infrastructure of economic and workforce development. I think we all recognize these are difficult times. We're all going to be called upon to be creative, reorganize, and reinvent in order to support the state."

Assemblywoman Sayward says it makes sense to give SUNY more responsibility when it comes to economic development, noting that colleges employ people and train students for the workforce.

So far, Cuomo has been quiet about his intentions to raise tuition. His executive budget is due Feb. 1.

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