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Letter To The Editor: Castella Wrong On FIT

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In his recent letter, Frank Castella Jr confuses community college chargebacks with tuition reimbursement, and questions the Fashion Institute of Technology’s status as a community college.

Per New York State education law, community college funding is a three-legged stool shared equally among the student (tuition and fees), the state (budget allocations), and the local sponsor – typically the county in which the community college is located.

New York State law establishes chargebacks – payments in lieu of the local sponsor contribution – to protect local sponsor funds (i.e. tax revenues) for use by local-sponsor-area resident students.

When students from outside the local sponsor area attend a community college, that college charges back that student’s home county to replace the local sponsor contribution in this formula. The local sponsor contribution – and chargebacks – are entirely independent of tuition. Chargebacks are not tuition reimbursements.

FIT’s chargeback rate reflects New York City’s strong support for the college. The most significant variable in the state-wide chargeback rate formula is the value of the local sponsor contribution: a higher contribution by a local sponsor is reflected in a higher chargeback rate.

Finally, FIT’s status as a community college was most recently affirmed by the New York State Court of Appeals in Town of N. Hempstead v. Cty. of Nassau, 24 N.Y.3d 67 (2014).

FIT students achieve extraordinary things: they graduate at rates double the national average, have very high employment rates with good salaries and benefits in their careers of choice, and more than 80 percent of them are working in New York State, contributing in many ways. We are proud to be part of the SUNY system and to provide cutting-edge, real-world career education to so many New Yorkers.

Sherry F. Brabham

Treasurer & Vice President, Finance and Administration,

Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY

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