Private higher education leaders outraged over proposal to cut state aid

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Private college leaders across the state are doubting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s commitment to higher education.

The governor is proposing eliminating a program that provides more than $30 million in state aid to private colleges and universities.

The financial support program, also known as Bundy aid, is only given to private institutions.

“I think it’s a very damaging proposal. It makes our job of providing an affordable education to students that much more difficult,” said Canisius College President John Hurley.

“It’s a huge blow to higher education in the State of New York,” said Daemen College President Gary Olson.

Last year Canisius College received $270,000 in state aid, while Daemen College got $250,000.

If eliminated, education leaders say it could lead to lower enrollment and colleges could be forced to close.

“You have these kind of external hits that are so unnecessary, they could very well close colleges as they do every year, and when a college closes the community suffers,” said Olson.

Private institutions already went to battle with the state last year when Governor Cuomo implemented free tuition at public colleges and universities. Some leaders question if the state aid cut will help fund the free-tuition Excelsior Scholarship.

“It would be a very cynical attempt on the part of the governor and his administration to just take that money away to fund his other program for public colleges,” said Olson.

Some private colleges told News 4 they have already been forced to cut costs.

“We’ve reduced our tuition by $8,000, we rolled it back to 2008 levels, we’re still trying to give away financial aid,” said Hurley.

“This could very well be the death now of some colleges already struggling,” said Olson.

Local college presidents say they are collectively working with more than 100 private colleges and universities in the state to stop the proposal in Albany.

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