NEW YORK – The Professional Staff Congress (PSC) has rallied a coalition of elected, labor, religious and community leaders to condemn the City University of New York’s (CUNY) recent tuition increase for undocumented and out-of-status immigrant students.

Thousands of students learned in December that their tuition would double with the start of the spring semester Jan. 28, due to an abrupt shift in CUNY policy on in-state tuition eligibility.

Members of the wide-ranging coalition signed a letter to CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein objecting to the new rules as a betrayal of CUNY’s stated mission and calling for a “suspension of this unnecessary and damaging policy change until legislative and other approaches to the issue can be advanced.”

Until Nov. 5, 2001, CUNY had followed a 1989 Executive Order first signed by Mayor Ed Koch, and then affirmed by both Mayors David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani, permitting the university to charge in-state tuition to undocumented or out-of-status students who met the residency requirements.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, CUNY General Counsel Frederick P. Schaffer reviewed the policy – under the direction of Chancellor Goldstein – and summarily concluded that the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act supercedes Koch’s executive order.

“The 1996 federal law contains no penalty for non-compliance, and it allows states to set alternative policies on college tuition for undocumented and out-of-status immigrants. Both Texas and California – states with large immigrant populations – have passed laws that allow these students to continue paying in-state tuition,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “Why can’t New York do the same? CUNY should be supporting a legislative solution, not cutting off a lifeline for thousands of students.”

CUNY was founded on the principle of access and diversity, a tradition that is threatened by this policy. Students from 145 countries who speak more than 100 different languages currently attend CUNY, making it one of the most ethnically and racially diverse universities in the country.