The New York State Senate and Assembly have each released legislation amending Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget Proposal, setting forth their own budget priorities. The next few days are critical for our students and member colleges. Here’s how you can help:
Contact Your State Legislators
To find your local Assembly person and Senator:
They need to know that APC is against the Governor’s Excelsior Scholarship Proposal. Students attending an APC member college would not be eligible for this program. Instead, we are urging the legislature to invest any additional monies into the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) so that all students can benefit.
The following is an update to APC’s 2017-18 legislative agenda:
Reject Excelsior Scholarship Program:
APC is pleased that the legislature is committed to improving access to higher education for New Yorkers. However, the membership is concerned with the Assembly’s commitment to the Excelsior Scholarship program. All New York’s students, including those attending an APC institution, should be allowed to participate in this program. Student choice across all sectors of higher education in New York must be maintained and should be part of the Excelsior Scholarships Program. Ninety percent of students attending APC member colleges are from New York and more than 90 percent of those students stay in the state after graduation to live and work. These students deserve the same opportunity to reduce their student loan debt as the proposal outlines.
Institute Part-Time TAP Parity:
APC requests that the legislature resolve an inequity in the TAP program. Currently, students who attend two year institutions do not have access to the same maximum TAP amount. This inequity occurred during the 2010 budget. Now is the time to correct this prejudice and help keep college affordable for students who attend two year colleges. Senate bill 600 would solve this inequality.
Expand TAP Awards:
APC supports the Assembly proposal for additional funding for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). The proposal to adjust the TAP schedule and increase TAP awards will ensure that college remains a possibility for thousands of New Yorkers. APC member colleges provided more than $92 million in grants, scholarships and institutional aid in the 2015-2016 academic year. This financial aid combined with TAP awards will help students reach their goal of an affordable, relevant degree that will lead to employment.
APC supports the Senate’s proposal for the Enhanced Tuition Assistance Program (E-TAP). This additional funding will ensure that college remains a possibility for thousands of New Yorkers. APC member colleges provided more than $92 million in grants, scholarships and institutional aid in the 2015-2016 academic year. This financial aid combined with TAP and E-TAP awards will help students reach their goal of an affordable, relevant degree that will lead to employment.
Student Loan Debt Refinancing:
APC member colleges are committed to keeping college affordable and student loan debt low. The Assembly’s Student Debt Refinancing proposal is in line with the association’s objectives and APC’s membership stands ready to assist with the implementation of this program. According to recently released College Scorecard data, students graduating from APC member colleges accumulate an average of just $21,900 in student loan debt. This is significantly lower than the average student loan debt of New York residents of $32,200 and the national average of $29,700.
APC member colleges are committed to keeping college affordable and so in recent years, our member colleges have either held tuition flat, instituted small tuition increases (between 1 and 1.5 percent), or decreased tuition. APC members would be happy to work with the Senate and provide information on how member colleges have been able to maintain costs and keep tuition increases to a minimum.
2017-18 New York State Legislative Agenda
Increase the Maximum TAP Award to $6,500
Since its creation in 1974, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) has enabled more than five million New Yorkers to go to college. In 2014, the state showed its continued support of the program by increasing the maximum TAP award for the first time in more than a decade. We must build on this increase and raise the maximum TAP award to $6,500 annually.
Expand the TAP Income Threshold to $100,000
Expanding the maximum income threshold for TAP recipients from $80,000 to $100,000 would open to door to a college degree for many students from middle class families. The maximum income threshold has not been adjusted in more than 17 years.
Reinstate TAP for Graduate Students
Occupations requiring master’s degrees are growing faster than those that do not. The state must consider making TAP funding available for students enrolled in graduate level programs. Realizing this need, APC member colleges, such as Monroe College and LIM College, have invested in master’s level programs to meet the demands of employers.
Expanding Eligibility to the Proposed Excelsior Scholarship Program
The governor’s proposed Excelsior Scholarship Program seeks to create affordable opportunities for many students in New York. However, as currently proposed, its limited scope will leave countless students behind. Students attending APC member colleges who seek to better their futures by attending classes while working full-time, those pursuing a degree after starting a family, and students looking to improve their skills to compete in today’s job market deserve the same opportunity to reduce their student loan debt as students attending state-funded colleges.
APC Student Advocacy Day
More than 70 APC students, faculty and administrators visited Albany yesterday to encourage lawmakers to increase funding for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), making it available to more New York students.