Joe Robach and the members of the New York State Senate, in support of college education, recent passed five bills to make college more affordable for students and their families, while setting students up for success. These bills provide opportunities to help New York students thrive by increasing awards in the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to equal the cost per semester of SUNY and CUNY tuition, alleviating student loan debt, giving access to free community college to eligible students, and providing targeted work-training programs.
In support of this education initiative, Joe Robach said, “Given the high costs of college, every opportunity must be made by students and their families to meet their required expenses with scholarships, student loans, financial aid and personal contributions.
As a father of three, Joe Robach knows the expense that comes with obtaining a college degree, but also knows the value of that degree. He is proud to support this education legislation that will help college students throughout New York State pay their way through college so they aren’t burdened with excessive debt upon college graduation.
The college affordability bills approved by the Senate include the following legislation:
Increasing TAP Awards:
The Senate passed legislation (S7795) that builds upon the $34.2 million TAP increase the legislature included in the 2014-15 state budget. The measure increases the maximum TAP award from $5,165 to $6,470 beginning in fall 2015. In addition, the bill increases the maximum income eligibility for TAP from $80,000 to $100,000 to include more middle class families and students.
Helping Students Pay Off Student Loan Debt:
The Senate approved legislation (S7791), that would help students pay off large student debts. The bill would enable eligible students to convert up to $35,000 in private student loan debt into a low-interest loan to be managed by the state. Students would be able to pay off the loan based on their annual income and ability to pay. The new program, called the New York Student Affordable Refinancing for Tomorrow (New START) Program, would make it easier for students to pay off student loan debt, which has surpassed credit card debt as the number one source of debt in the nation.
Free Community College:
The Senate passed a bill (S7793) to guarantee access to a free community college education for eligible students. This bill requires the state’s Higher Education Services Corporation to reimburse students for the cost of attending a community college if they meet eligibility requirements related to academic success and financial aid eligibility.
In addition, the Senate passed bills today that would:
> Create a pilot program that includes reduced-cost accelerated baccalaureate degrees at SUNY institutions. These degree programs would be completed within three years and is capped at a total tuition cost of $12,000 for the 2016-2017 academic year (S7792);
>Establish a grant-funded program geared at retraining and employing unemployed people. This legislation (S7794) awards a $500,000 grant to community colleges to develop or improve existing workforce development programs. It would provide proper training required for job placement in businesses and industries within an eligible college’s region that is lacking the necessary workforce, is seeking employees with new skills, or where job growth is anticipated in the near future.
The bills were sent to the Assembly.