State senators examine college costs, offer resources

Rikki Massand

December 12, 2019

Originally published in Garden City News on December 12, 2019.

As costs of a college education continue to rise and create stressful financial burdens for families across Nassau County and the region, elected officials have planned new methods of community outreach and action plans to develop better longterm economic stability for Long Islanders.

In Garden City at Nassau County Community College on Friday, November 1, New York State Senators including Long Island’s Senator Kevin Thomas of District No. 6 (the successor to longtime Sen. Kemp Hannon of Garden City) and Sen. James Gaughran representing District No. 5 North Shore communities attended a NY State Senate Standing Committee on Higher Education hearing to examine accessibility and affordability of public higher education in New York. The hearing was organized by the chair of the State Senate Standing Committee on Higher Education, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

In an interview with The Garden City News this week, Sen. Thomas said he was eager to ask questions to the entire audience, including ‘who here currently has student loan debt?’ — and Senator Thomas and Senator Monica R. Martinez of Suffolk County were among those who raised their hands.

Conversation at the November hearing built upon what Thomas envisioned during his first year in the State Senate with Consumer Protection advocacy and securing strong educational opportunities for people as two prime objectives.

 

“We (the State Senate) look to how we can mitigate the situations as this is turning into something worse than the mortgage crisis we had for several years following the 2008/2009 Recession. One of the first things that I did in our State Senate for legislation was looking at Part L of the New York State budget which passed in March. Servicers who are processing federal and private student loans have to be licensed because nationally, some student loan servicers have not been following the law and have not been following policies of the federal government and have not protected student loan borrowers — the state has to step up. Once that passed in the state budget, the New York State Department of Financial Services became the agency now tasking with licensing, auditing and finding loan servicers. DFS came into my district at Hofstra University for a forum aimed at putting students first, evoking a ‘Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights. That is groundbreaking and historic for New York. Students and former students now have somewhere to turn to with their questions,” he said.

Read the fully story in Garden City News.