Wells College President Jonathan Gibralter was recently featured in the Citizen (Auburn, N.Y.) about his stance on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to eliminate certain funding for higher education in the governor’s newly unveiled 2018–2019 New York State executive budget proposal.
The proposed budget calls for the elimination of all $35 million in Bundy Aid, an unrestricted source of operating aid that Wells and over 100 other New York State institutions have historically relied on to provide financial aid support. The Bundy Aid program, initially created in 1968, provides aid based on the number and types of degrees that each college confers, thereby placing a focus on degree completion.
In addition, reductions in Pell Grants and other student aid at the federal level in recent years, as well as the state’s Excelsior Scholarship program, only compound these issues for private, four-year colleges. “Given the negative effects that New York’s Excelsior program has had on small, private institutions like ours, it is disappointing that the state wants to chip away even further at our ability to fulfill our educational mission,” said President Gibralter.
The governor proposes moving that aid to the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program (HECap), which is a source of funding for long-term capital projects such as building renovations. The problem, however, is that HECap fund disbursement does not affect individual students as directly as Bundy Aid funds do, and disbursement of HECap funds can sometimes take years, further delaying their impact.
“I think (capital improvement) funding is a very good program and it should be in the budget and not at the expense of Bundy Aid,” President Gibralter said in the Citizen article. You can read the entire piece at this link.
President Gibralter has also shared his concerns about these funding cuts directly with NYS Senator Pamela Helming, who is a strong advocate of higher education and has been a valuable partner for Wells College.