EOP housing deposit waiver dropped by Buffalo State

Patrick Koster, News Editor

Denise Robinson is the single mother of two SUNY Buffalo State students enrolled in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

She said her children forwarded her an email last week regarding the previous EOP fee waiver of their housing deposits. The email said that EOP would no longer cover housing deposits that were waivered for her children’s first two years, and even if they did pay the fees themselves, housing was not guaranteed.

Robinson said she doesn’t know if her daughters are waitlisted for housing next year.

“I have no idea because they said they went to find a dorm and they were told that they were already full,” Robinson said. “And the only thing that’s available or open right now from what I was told is the most expensive, I don’t know if it’s like a dorm [or] apartment, where from what I was told, that it’s the equivalent of someone’s house mortgage for the year and I’d probably have to take out additional loans for them to even live there on campus.”

Robinson said her children will not be attending Buffalo State next year. The $400 housing deposit for both of her children is too much to pay by June 1.

“No, I’m already certain I’m going to have to bring them home or see if we can transfer them to a different school, and I’m sure I’m not the only parent that’s going to have to do this process,” Robinson said. “This is a month and a half. Maybe $400 is okay for one kid, but I’ve got two kids there. You want $800 by June 1 and then you’re telling me that even if I give you $800, you’re not even sure if my kids have a place to sleep? Why would I break my neck giving you this money and then you can’t even tell me if they have a bed?”

Senior EOP Counselor Neil O’Donnell works with a caseload of about 100 EOP students, the average amount for an EOP counselor at Buffalo State. O’Donnell and other counselors have been receiving calls from EOP students the past week about the fee waiver being dropped.

“I’ve had a number of students who have been concerned with being able to come up with that money,” O’Donnell said. “I was an EOP grad from here, and there’s no way in heck I could see myself coming up with [that] – and even cutting back on those 20-some years ago when I graduated.

“I know that there are students looking at transferring, there are students looking at going to Collegiate Village, so they’re looking at their alternatives because there’s a number who know, quite frankly, they’ll never get $400 in two months.”

O’Donnell said the fee waiver drop was a decision outside of EOP. He sent an email notice to his students two weeks ago when he first heard of the waiver drop, saying that he was looking into it. When the drop was confirmed, he sent another email to students early last week.

“When I was an EOP grad student, there’s no way I could’ve come up with the deposit this quickly,” O’Donnell said. “I think a number of us were walking around blank, just [asking] ‘How are our students going to come up with it?’

“$400 is a hell of a lot of money.”

Robinson doesn’t agree with Buffalo State’s recent housing changes.

“Unless they have jobs, how are they supposed to be able to afford to live off campus? Maybe a senior would” Robinson said. “I mean even in my college days, most seniors by then were tired of living on campus and they found apartments, but my daughters have not had jobs there or any type of work. And I’m a single parent, I can’t afford to send them money for rent to live there and for me to live here. I can’t do both of those things. So, they’re forcing these students to leave is basically what they’re saying.”

Robinson said she “absolutely” thinks Buffalo State should allocate rooms for students who are already attending.

“They’re telling us that they make more money off the incoming freshman and they would rather double up and overload the students, which is basically what they did when my twins were freshmen,” Robinson said. “We didn’t know until a week before we got there at orientation that they had accepted so many freshmen that the kids were three to four people to a room. They didn’t even tell us that.

“Why would you overextend yourself to the point where you’re forcing the children to be three to four people in a room? If you’re that hard-pressed for money, then maybe there’s a bigger problem here with financing at this college, because all of these students that you’re taking still are going to need rooms for junior and senior year. Where are they supposed to go when you’re done with them?”

O’Donnell was informed that EOP Director Yanick Jenkins is working to try to offset some of the costs, although there are no clear alternatives for students yet.

“I mean, at this point, we’re still looking into things,” O’Donnell said. “I just don’t know how they’re going to come up with $400. I don’t know how they come up with $200.”

“It’s a financial thing,” Robinson said. “You’re making money off the freshmen. But you’re basically saying ‘To hell with all the rest of you guys, we’re done making money off of you come May, so whatever happens next is your problem.’ I honestly feel like calling every high school in the tri-state area and saying ‘If you’re thinking about sending your kids to Buffalo State, do not do it.’”

Director of Housing Kris Kaufman was unavailable for comment.

email: [email protected]