Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) announced his support for a comprehensive plan to make a college education more affordable for New York’s students. The plan provides increased financial assistance to help families with soaring tuition expenses, provide new incentives to college students to keep them living and working in New York when they graduate and makes it easier for New York’s servicemen and women to attend college.
"A college degree is a tool that opens many doors in life, and it should be an opportunity that is available to all who seek it," Senator Fuschillo. "By making higher education more affordable and providing additional financial assistance to families, we can help more students achieve the dream of earning a college diploma."
The plan contains the following measures to help make a college education more affordable to local families:
TUITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (TAP) ENHANCEMENT:
The plan enhances New York State’s Tuition Assistance Program by:
- Increasing dependent students household income eligibility cap for TAP from $80,000 to $100,000 net taxable income.
- Increasing nondependent students income eligibility for TAP from $10,000 to $12,500 net taxable income.
- Raising the minimum TAP award under the TAP award schedule for families with dependent students from $500 to $1,000.
- Changing the TAP award schedule to enhance awards to middle-income New Yorkers.
These improvements would allow thousands of additional families statewide to qualify for TAP benefits.
EXPANDING TUITION TAX CREDITS:
The amount of tuition expenses that families can deduct off their taxes would be raised from the current level of $10,000 to $14,000. The tax credit will increase from 4 percent to 5 percent of eligible tuition expenses, or a maximum of $700, instead of the current maximum of $400, benefiting all New Yorkers with college expenses.
STUDENT LOAN DEBT RELIEF PROGRAM:
To help students with their college loans, and to give them an incentive to stay in New York State, this plan establishes the New York State Student Loan Debt Relief Program to provide a tax credit of up to 50 percent for college graduates (maximum of $1,000) toward student loan payments per year for those earning $50,000 or less. The tax credit is available for five years, beginning in the 2007 tax year. To be eligible, tax filers are required to remain an employed resident of New York State during the period they claim the tax credit and must also have received a degree from an approved higher education institution in New York.
Estimates are that the average college graduate of a public institution in New York State now owes $15,000 in student loans, and over $21,000 if they attended a private college.
MATH, SCIENCE & ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY:
This proposal establishes the New York State Math, Science and Engineering Technology Retention Program to increase the pool of science, engineering and technology professionals in the state, and to keep these graduates in New York.
The initiative provides $1,000 in state grant money in the first year to 1,000 undergraduate or graduate students living in New York State with a degree in math, science or engineering technology for each year of employment in any science, engineering or technology field, other than teaching, in New York State for up to five years (beginning with 2008 tax year) for degrees awarded in the 2007-08 academic year and beyond.
To help increase the number of certified middle and high school math and science teachers, the legislation would increase the number of annual awards under the New York State Math and Science Teaching Incentive Program to 750 from 500. This existing program was designed to increase the number of certified middle and high school math and science teachers, by providing students enrolled in an approved teachers' certification program with tuition reimbursement up to the amount of SUNY tuition for each year they complete in that program.
Under this proposal, recipients must agree to teach in the classroom on a full-time basis for five years in the field of math or science in a school located within New York State.
VETERANS TUITION AWARD PROGRAM:
This plan would increase the maximum tuition assistance grant to veterans of the Iraq, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan or Korean Wars from $2,000 to $4,350 or equivalent tuition rate at SUNY schools.
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