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Chargeback

Funding for community colleges in New York State is a three-way partnership, shared among students, the State, and each college’s local sponsor, which is typically the county in which it is located. The three-way funding partnership’s inclusion of local sponsor contributions recognizes that public higher education benefits not only students and their families, but local communities and businesses as well.
Learn more about community college funding in the SUNY/CUNY Chargeback Report (.pdf)

This three-way funding partnership affects FIT because it was chartered by the State as a community college. FIT is the only New York State community college to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in addition to the two-year associate degree, and has been authorized by the State to do so since the 1970s.

The financial structure of the three-way funding partnership is designed to provide that the local sponsor contribution is primarily used on behalf of students from the local sponsor area, and to make a student’s actual county of residence responsible for the local sponsor contribution or equivalent.

  • For students from the local sponsor area, the contributions are paid by the local sponsor.
  • For students residing in the State but in a county outside the local sponsor area, the community college may collect the local sponsor contribution either from the student by charging the student the higher “non-resident” tuition rate or, if the student provides a “certificate of residence,” from the student’s home county through chargebacks.

Typically, community colleges have opted to “charge back” the home county of students providing certificates of residence rather than charge the students the higher non-resident tuition rate. When home counties honor certificates of residence as vouchers requiring payment, the chargeback structure is effective and protects students who attend a community college outside of their own local sponsor area from incurring non-resident rate tuition.
Learn more about certificates of residence in the Chargeback FAQ 
Learn more about chargebacks in the Chargeback FAQ
Learn more about resident-rate tuition in the Chargeback FAQ 

Because of this chargeback system, students have been able to attend any community college in the State that offers the programs they need, whether or not the college is in their home county, at the same tuition as students from the local sponsor area.

Unfortunately, the longstanding three-way funding partnership that is the basis of community college funding is now being challenged by Nassau and Suffolk counties. Both counties have refused to pay their 2011-12 chargebacks for their students enrolled in FIT’s bachelor’s and master’s programs. This represents a gap of approximately $7.2 million from FIT's operating budget, which the college has carried since last year.

Students whose counties are refusing to pay chargebacks or are withholding certificates of residence to avoid being billed chargebacks could be charged the “non-resident” tuition rate (equivalent to out-of-state tuition). As of November 2012, this situation only relates to Nassau and Suffolk county students at FIT.

Despite this critical revenue shortfall, FIT has not charged students from delinquent counties the non-resident tuition rate (as the college has the legal right to do), and will not do so for the spring 2013 semester. Because the FIT is mindful of the impact of any tuition increase on a family’s budget, the college will provide information in February 2013 concerning tuition rates for fall 2013 for students from delinquent counties.

The State University of New York has an appeal process for New York State students who have been denied a certificate of residence by their home county and are therefore ineligible for resident-rate tuition at the community college of their choice, if outside their home county (or local sponsor area).
Learn more about the appeal process in the Chargeback FAQ

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