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CUNY Board of Trustees Approves Tuition Hikes Despite Student Protests

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Hundreds of City University of New York students and teachers took to the streets Monday night to protest a now-approved tuition hike.  Though the vote is over, students said their battle is just beginning.

The protesters rallied in front of Baruch College, where the CUNY Board of Trustees voted in favor of the proposed increases. The vote means an initial $300 increase and $300 more per year for five more years after that. Tuition will increase from $4,800 in 2011 to $6,330 by 2015.

Junior Lorenzo Davis said the increase may force him to drop out of school and head back home to Jamaica.

"I just can't afford that amount. That's the reason why I came here was because I can afford it. I heard it's a credible school. And now it's going up. I'm thinking of finding another school to go to," Davis told CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez.

Davis said he already struggles to pay $5,700 per semester with his job at Kmart.

1010 WINS' Al Jones Reports From Outside Baruch College


Other City University students also said it's a tough lesson in economics and one they find hard to swallow.

Vicky Checo said her part-time job and her father's salary as a janitor are not enough to pay $9,000 a year for her education. She said the tuition increase is killing her future.

"It doesn't incorporate transportation costs and general living costs. When you're in college, you need to pay for certain things. So it's just putting another burden. It's gonna make me have to cut a day of school and work an extra day and compromise my education," she said.

Students were riled up because last week a public hearing on the proposal turned ugly. Cops and students clashed as  baton-wielding security officers tried to prevent a riot.

"It's 100 percent wrong. These are kids who can't afford to go to NYU or Harvard or Princeton because they don't have the funds," Vincent LoGuidice, a senior from Middle Village, told CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.

"For a lot of students, this series of tuition hikes is going to be something that either pushes them out of college or pushes them into debt once they finish college -- neither of which is good for our city," said Carwil Bjork-James, a graduate student and adjunct professor.

Students said they believe tuition should be free at CUNY, like it was in the past, 1010 WINS' Al Jones reported.

City University officials said they need the money.  Enrollment is up 10 percent since 2007 to 270,000 students and its budget has been slashed by $300 million. Besides, they said, the school spends more than $1 billion a year on tuition assistance.

"The truth is that 6 out of 10 of our students who are undergraduates and full-time -- they have no tuition currently and that will continue under the new system," CUNY spokesman Michael Arena told Kramer.

Baruch decided to reschedule afternoon classes and limit student access during the board meeting to avoid a repeat of last week's tuition hike protest which resulted in 15 arrests.

School officials said they made the decision to cancel classes to protect students and faculty and not to stop free speech.

What do you think of the tuition increase?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below...

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