Getting the most out of our higher education system is a key issue for me as I know it is for many families, students, and graduates. We must ensure that we’re preparing tomorrow’s workforce and keeping college affordable.
During the 2016 Legislative Session, I spearheaded major new investments in New York’s higher education system, provided increased funding for tuition assistance, and strongly supported public and private universities, and community colleges, across the state.
What We’ve Done…
Funding for TAP was increased, with total funding of more than $1 billion − helping thousands of young New Yorkers afford a quality higher education.
INCREASED SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES:
Full-time equivalent (FTE) funding was increased by $100. Base aid will be $2,697 per FTE for the 2016-17 Fiscal Year. This represents a nearly $20 million increase for SUNY and CUNY community colleges combined.
PREVENTED BAD POLICIES:
Through the Senate Republican Conference’s efforts, the State Budget rejected a proposal to provide free college tuition to illegal immigrants at a time when many middle class New York families are struggling to pay for their children’s higher education.
MADE IT EASIER FOR PARENTS TO SAVE:
We’ve expanded contribution options to our state’s popular 529 savings program by allowing the direct deposit of income tax returns into your child or children’s 529 accounts.
But more must be done. The rising cost of college tuition over the years has burdened families and left students drowning in debt even before they graduate and start a career in their chosen field.
We’ve reached a critical mass as graduates push important life decisions into their 30s and 40s, because they’re overwhelmed with debt.
Parents delay retirement to help their kids pay for college.
That’s why, as part of my “Shake Up the Status Quo” plan, I’ve put an emphasis on making college more affordable.
What We Still Must Do…
COMBINE JOB SEEKERS WITH APPRENTICES
My proposed “Learning for Work Program” establishes a Youth Apprenticeship Program for high school juniors or seniors. The apprenticeship program would combine academic work in the classroom with mentored on-the-job training to advance career readiness. This legislation would also offer an Enhanced Regents Professional Diploma in the specified occupation, and create a tax credit of $1,500 for each apprentice the participating employer sponsors.
INCREASE TRANSPARENCY TO HELP MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS
Students and families need current, thorough information about college and borrowing. Higher education institutions should be required to collect data and provide more detailed information on student retention and graduation rates, average amounts of federal and private student loan debt after graduation, and average earnings and employment metrics broken down by program of study.
REWARD HARD-WORKING STUDENTS
My proposed legislation will award a Community College Merit and Mobility Scholarship to high school students across the state who graduate within the top 20 percent of their class. Eligible students must attend a New York State community college and would receive $1,000 per year for up to two years. Up to 1,000 scholarships would be awarded to new students every year.
MAKE GRADUATE SCHOOL AFFORDABLE
I believe that New York should restore the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for graduate students. Many of today’s jobs now require a Master’s degree, but without the help of financial aid, the cost of graduate school is too expensive for many. Since the program’s elimination in 2010, it’s been increasingly difficult for students to further their education and obtain a graduate degree. My legislation would provide students with access to tuition assistance and make them more competitive in today’s job market.
By expanding financial and career opportunities for students and increasing accountability among higher education institutions, we can improve higher education for students and families.
Please take a moment and share your thoughts on what we can do to make college affordable, prepare the workforce of tomorrow, and restore the American dream.
Our higher education system is a key issue for me. We must ensure that we’re preparing tomorrow’s workforce and keeping college affordable. By expanding financial and career opportunities for students and increasing accountability among higher education institutions, we can improve higher education for students and families.