Author: Brett Shaw – Senior at SUNY Buffalo State & NYPIRG Higher Education Intern
Governor Cuomo’s higher education budget contains a potentially devastating hit to New York college students: the possibility that the entire Tuition Assistance Program could be defunded. You read that correctly, Governor Cuomo’s budget plan may result in the complete elimination of TAP. Governor Cuomo proposes that unless the DREAM Act (which allows TAP coverage for undocumented immigrant college students), and a tuition tax credit for elementary and secondary students attending private and parochial schools are approved, the TAP program’s funding will be completely eliminated.
TAP is a need-based college financial aid program relied on by hundreds of thousands of students across the state. By combining these issues together, the governor is creating an “all or nothing” situation for these three proposals. As a result, 300,000 students’ $1 billion in financial aid is held hostage to political negotiations.
Higher education in New York State is becoming more expensive and resulting in more debt for New York State students and their families. By packaging different reforms on the same educational agenda together significantly increases the risk and likelihood that students will lose more financial aid. While the governor deserves credit for the positive things he’s done, he deserves criticism for his bad policy proposals. State lawmakers should reject the governor’s political brinkmanship with students’ finances and instead focus on expanding access to aid.