© 2024 WSKG

601 Gates Road
Vestal, NY 13850

217 N Aurora St
Ithaca, NY 14850

FCC LICENSE RENEWAL
FCC Public Files:
WSKG-FM · WSQX-FM · WSQG-FM · WSQE · WSQA · WSQC-FM · WSQN · WSKG-TV · WSKA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

WSKG thanks our sponsors...

Higher education panel chairs in New York Legislature say TAP must be increased in 2024

New York State Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Patricia Fahy speaks about the need to raise TAP awards at a news conference on Jan. 8, 2024. Senate Higher Education Chair Toby Stavisky is to her left.
Karen DeWitt
/
New York Public News Network
New York State Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Patricia Fahy speaks about the need to raise TAP awards at a news conference on Jan. 8, 2024. Senate Higher Education Chair Toby Stavisky is to her left.

Saying New York state’s Tuition Assistance Program no longer fulfills its mission of helping lower- and middle-class students with college expenses, the chairs of the higher education committees in the Legislature are calling for changes.

Assemblymember Pat Fahy and Sen. Toby Stavisky say the popular program has not kept up with recent inflation, and other changes have also led to a decline in the award’s value. 

Until 2011, New York would increase the maximum TAP award to match the state’s SUNY and CUNY tuition rates. Back then, tuition at the State University of New York was just over $4,900 for in-state students, and the maximum TAP award was $5,000.

But that arrangement ended, and in the more than a dozen years since then, SUNY tuition has risen to about $7,000, while the maximum TAP award is $5,665.

Fahy said they would also like to raise the family income threshold from $80,000 to $122,000. Fahy said the last time it increased was 24 years ago.

“We haven't changed the income eligibility of $80,000 (in) almost a quarter-century,” Fahy said. “The $80,000 is no longer exactly middle class for many, many of our families.”

Fahy said 70% of students cite rising costs as the barrier to attending college. That, along with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action programs at higher education institutions, makes it more difficult to promote diversity on campuses, she said.

“We want our campuses to stay diverse,” Fahy said. “(That’s) another reason to help TAP.”

She said increasing the TAP award could also help reverse declining student enrollment that has led to cutbacks at SUNY campuses in Potsdam and Fredonia, and the announced closure of the St. Rose campus in Fahy’s district in Albany.

Stavisky said she also wants to remedy what she called the state’s decades of financial neglect of public colleges and universities.

“The disinvestment in state support had been going on for years, “ Stavisky said. “Unfortunately, the students had to bear the cost, not the state. And the state share of operating aid in the higher education community declined.”

There are also bills in the Senate and Assembly that would, among other things, up the number of years that someone is eligible for TAP, and increase the minimum award to $1,000.

SUNY Chancellor John King backs the TAP increase, testifying in support of it at an Assembly hearing in November.

Stavisky said she’s been talking to staff in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office, and she hopes the governor will agree to the plan in the state budget this year.

The state faces a $4.3 billion budget gap that the governor will have to close, so there will be more competition for funding programs this year.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.