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CUNY to Charge Puerto Rico Climate Change Refugee Students Outrageous $6,350

The NiLP Report

CUNY Latino Trustees (top to bottom): Fernando Ferrer Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez Mayra Linares-Garcia Robert F. Mujica

The Board of Trustees of the City University of New York announced their decision to approve a resolution that would enable that "Students from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will pay in-state tuition for the 2017-18 academic year, the CUNY Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Monday. Affected full-time students will pay $6,350 in tuition for the year, rather than the $17,400 that students from outside the state pay."

With universities across the United States already providing this type of assistance to students from Puerto Rico and a number completely waiving tuition for these students, CUNY's late and expensive response is seen as shocking. This is especially the case because 4 of the 15 CUNY Trustees are Puerto Rican and Dominican. These Latino Trustees are Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez, Fernando Ferrer, Mayra Linares-Garcia and Robert F. Mujica.

Given the devastation of Puerto Rico and the extremely economic distress it has had on its residents, it would be expected that higher education in New York would have been more supportive and understanding. For example, while in-state tuition for CUNY is $6,350, for the University of Puerto Rico it is $2,019. That CUNY did not even take this differential into account, more damning is their failure to acknowledge the economic devastation of the Puerto Rican people, many who cannot even access their money given conditions on the Island.

According to a CUNY press release: "Chancellor Milliken said an effort has been launched to raise private funds to help displaced students defray the cost of attending CUNY and that all CUNY colleges are actively involved in University-wide relief efforts. In addition, CUNY is making laboratory and other space available to University of Puerto Rico faculty and setting up a grant process for collaborative work on recovery issues." Why the need to resort to private fundraising for these students that could take away from efforts to raise money to help Puerto Rico directly? Why the failure to develop a plan to delay acceptance of transcripts, or provide room and board, as other universities have done?

But the greatest disappointment is the failure of the Latino Trustees and Governor Cuomo to allow this half-hearted and tone deafed response by a university system that has historically had such important ties to the Puerto Rican community.

To express your opinion on this issue, write or call:

Chancellor James B. Milliken

Office of the Chancellor

City University of New York

205 East 42nd Street

New York, NY 10017

Phone: 646.664.9100

Fax: 646.664.3868

Email: chancellor@cuny.edu

William C. Thompson, Jr.


CUNY Board of Trustees

205 East 42nd Street

New York, NY 10017


Honorable Andrew Cuomo


State of New York

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224




Puerto Ricans and Other Latinos in the City University of New York (CUNY)By Angelo Falcón, The NiLP Report (September 2016)