Working to make higher education more affordable for all students, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Higher Education Committee Chair Deborah J. Glick announced today that the 2014-15 Assembly budget includes a $300 increase in Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards, bringing the maximum TAP award to $5,300 per full-time student (FTE) and increasing TAP support by $47 million to students across the state. Additionally, funds are allocated to restore SUNY and CUNY child care centers, invest in SUNY health science centers and increase aid to higher education opportunity programs. Combined, the one-house proposal provides nearly $88 million to improve the accessibility and affordability of a college degree in New York State.
"By increasing TAP awards and making serious investments in opportunity programs, this year's budget makes a commitment to reducing the financial burden of higher education," Speaker Silver said. "When our students succeed, our state succeeds, which is why the Assembly has also made it a top priority to preserve high-quality higher education programs to ensure that New York State is providing college students with the best possible environment to learn and grow, both at college and in the workplace."
"The Assembly has long recognized that the benefits of a higher education are myriad, which is why year after year we fight to increase crucial funding that makes a college education a financially feasible goal for all students," Glick said. "This year's budget is no different. By opening doors to a college degree for all of our students, we are helping to build up the next generation of New York's leaders, movers and shakers."
In addition to increasing the maximum TAP award, the Assembly's budget proposal also moves individuals in foster care and wards of the court from the independent TAP schedule to the dependent schedule. The Assembly would provide $2.65 million to address this inequity and to calculate awards for these students who have limited resources using the more generous dependent schedule. This allows these students - who face difficult circumstances through no fault of their own - eligibility for a greater TAP award.
Once again the Assembly budget includes $25 million to fund the New York State DREAM Act (A.2597-A). The DREAM Act would provide certain immigrant students with access to TAP, scholarships and opportunity programs. It would also allow immigrant families who have a taxpayer identification number to open a New York 529 family tuition savings account.
For the third year in a row, the Assembly budget provides a base aid increase. This year's proposal includes a base aid increase of $50 per FTE at SUNY and CUNY community colleges, bringing the total base aid amount to $2,472 per FTE. Doing so reduces the financial burden on both students and municipalities.
The Assembly budget proposal maintains $3.1 million in overall funding for child care programs at community colleges. Out of the overall aid, $1.7 million is allocated to SUNY child care centers and $1.4 million is allocated toward CUNY child care centers.
The proposal provides a three percent increase for opportunity programs over last year's budget. Allocated funding includes: