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SUNY schools’ lax policies led to out-of-state students getting discounted tuition, audit found

Many out-of-state residents seem to have gotten discounted in-state tuition at SUNY schools, a recent audit found.

The state comptroller’s office audited seven SUNY schools to see if they were charging out-of-state tuition to graduate students whose permanent residence is in another state. The audit released on Thursday, May 26 covered the period from June 2015 to September 2019.

Out-of-state tuition for SUNY graduate schools is roughly $12,000 more than in-state tuition, according to Albany Times-Union. The audit found students could secure the discounted tuition rate by simply checking a box to affirm they are New York residents.


35% of applications didn’t have proper proof of address, says audit

Graduate students’ addresses are required to be confirmed by the SUNY school they plan to attend. However, the comptroller’s audit found that some schools were “simply accepting what the student listed for residence on their application” and “some campus officials were not even aware there was a policy that applied to graduate students.”

Auditors randomly sampled 1,207 graduate school applications and found that 421, or 35%, of those applications did not include proper documentation to support the applicant’s residency status. Four campuses- Buffalo, Binghamton, ESF and Geneseo- account for the majority of “questionable assessments,” according to the audit.

If all of those 421 applicants actually lived out of state, SUNY schools lost a total of $1.3 million in tuition. If the 35% of applications without proof of address is consistent throughout the SUNY system, then up to 52,000 graduate students might not have had to prove their address in order to get the in-state tuition.

Read the full audit here.