JOE ROBACH WORKING TO IMPROVE EDUCATION READINESS

Joe Robach recently joined his colleagues in the New York State Senate to approve legislation (S. 5650C) that would improve children’s school readiness by directing the New York State Commissioner of Education to evaluate and report on early childhood education in day care centers.

The New York State Education Department (SED) currently has authority over education institutions serving children ages three and up.  Oversight over child care institutions under three years of age is done by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). While OCFS’ regulations speak to the health and safety of a child, there is no education component. In New York State, early education is not mandated before age 6, but longitudinal studies have shown that children enrolled in structured, early education meet their developmental milestones at a significantly higher rate, compared to those who do not receive early education who often flounder by age 21. Learning begins in infancy and all children should be entitled to be in a clean, safe, healthy environment which will stimulate their growth emotionally, academically and physically. Additionally, it has been found that children enrolled in structured daycare have better mental health outcomes in the long term, than do their counterparts in more informal daycare settings.

The lack of education requirements and oversight by SED of all children starting at birth is of grave concern to a child’s development and preparedness for kindergarten and beyond. The study required in this bill will examine key issues in and roadblocks in overseeing a child care system that places a strong emphasis on education.

Joe Robach was proud to promote this education legislation because of the millions of children in day care in our state deserve the best possible preparation for school. Joe Robach hopes that the Assembly will pass this bill so that the Commissioner can prepare the study on how we can continue to improve on the great education of the students in New York.

The bill was sent to the Assembly. For more information on education legislation, contact Joe Robach office.

JOE ROBACH AND SENATE PASS BILL TO PREVENT HAZING AT COLLEGES & EDUCATION SETTINGS

Joe Robach and the Senate passed legislation recently to prevent the tragic injuries and deaths that can occur due to hazing at colleges, universities and other education settings. The bill (S.1937)  would help cut down on hazing by strengthening a college or university’s enforcement authority and increasing awareness of the consequences of hazing, underage drinking, and illegal drug use.

In spite of good faith efforts on the part of institutions of higher education to implement policies and procedures to combat hazing, problems continue and show no signs of decreasing. Last month, SUNY Binghamton halted all pledging activity on campus due to an alarming number of serious hazing complaints, and in November, a member of Florida A&M’s marching band was beaten to death during a hazing ritual. Parents, administrators and trustees have become increasingly concerned about the safety of their children and students on campus.

This legislation, supported by Joe Robach – a member on the Senate’s Education Committee, would build upon existing criminal laws against hazing, underage drinking and illegal drug use to deter such activities by requiring colleges and universities to implement more serious consequences and disciplinary charges for offenders. The bill:

  • Requires colleges to adopt rules prohibiting hazing, underage drinking and illegal drug use and establish penalties for non-compliance;
  • Expands authority of colleges to regulate conduct by college and student government organizations and clubs, athletic teams and clubs, alumni organizations, fraternities, sororities, and any other organization that has access to and use of the college facilities;
  • Requires colleges to educate the campus community on bias-related crime, hazing, underage drinking and illegal drug use; and Requires colleges to inform incoming students of and to train residence hall staff in the prohibitions against hazing, underage drinking and illegal drug use.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly for consideration.  For more information about this or any other education initiative, contact the office of Joe Robach.

JOE ROBACH AND SENATE PROPOSE PLAN TO MAKE HIGHER EDUCATION MORE AFFORDABLE

Joe Robach and members of the Senate Majority Conference outlined a plan to help middle-class families and students afford the rapidly increasing cost of a college education.  The Senate’s 2012 College Affordability Plan would help parents save for higher education for their children and give students and families access to low interest student loans, as well as clear information about the size of the loan debt they are taking on.

In addition, the plan would encourage young New Yorkers to stay in the Empire State to begin their careers by creating a new “Stay-In-New York” tax credit.  This would provide up to $12,000 in tax relief over four years for students who graduate on time or early from a college in New York, perform community service work and stay and work in New York for at least four years.

Highlights of the College Affordability Plan include:
Doubling the existing tuition tax deduction from $10,000 to $20,000;
Doubling the maximum tuition tax credit from $400 to $800;
Creating a four-year, $12,000 “Stay-in-New-York” tax credit for people who graduate from a college in New York  in four years or less; perform volunteer community service and stay and work in New York for four years.  Combined with existing credits, graduates could get up to $15,200 in total tax relief;
Establish a new $100 million Linked Deposit Student Loan program to make low interest student loans available to middle class families. Loan interest rates could be cut in half;
Enabling parents could pre-pay current tuition for a SUNY or CUNY school; and
Designate the Department of Financial Services to serve as a “truth-in-lending” clearinghouse for reliable information on college loans and interest rates.

Information from The Project on Student Debt (annual surveys conducted by U.S. News & World Report, the College Board and Peterson’s College Guide), illustrate the financial problems created by rising tuition costs and the debt owed to pay off those costs.

In 2010, graduates from colleges in New York had an average loan debt of $26, 271, the 10th highest amount in the country.  Just six years ago in 2005-06, the average loan for New York schools was $19,249 and New York ranked 20th in the nation.  Sixty-one percent of students who attend college in New York have college loan debts.

Nationally, college tuitions have increased well beyond the rate of inflation, income and health care costs.  It’s estimated that by 2016, the average cost of a public college will have more than doubled in 15 years.  The amount of student debt is now more than one trillion dollars, surpassing the amount owed on credit cards and auto loans.

In an effort to address the enormous financial burden that higher education places on middle class families and young people, Senate Republicans are proposing the following measures:

Double Existing Tuition Tax Credits and Deductions

Senate Republicans proposed and enacted the first state tuition tax credit in 2001 to help middle class families afford higher education.  Since that time, the cost of a college education has risen by 40 percent, eroding the benefit of the tuition tax credits and deductions.  This proposal would immediately double the size of existing tuition tax credits and deductions and index them to the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) to keep pace with rising costs.

• The current tax deduction would increase from $10,000 to $20,000.
• The maximum tax credit would increase from $400 to $800.
• A new “Stay-in-New-York” tax credit would provide additional relief of up to $12,000 over 4 years (up to $3,000 per year) for individuals who: graduate from a New York college or university in 4 years or less; meet a community service requirement; and who stay and work in New York State for at least 4 years after graduation. (When combined with existing credits, graduates would be eligible for up to $15,200 in total tax relief.)
• Prospectively, the plan would also peg these credits and deductions to the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI), to ensure that these tax benefits are not lost due to inflationary pressures.

Cut Student Loan Interest Rates in Half

Joe Robach’s education plan establishes a new $100 million Linked Deposit Student Loan Program that would make new low interest loans available to middle class families.  Financed through a new public-private partnership between lending institutions and the State’s Short Term Investment Pool (STIP), the program would provide loans of up to $7,500 at rates two to three percentage points below the typical rates offered by a bank — reducing interest rates by up to 50 percent.

Allow Tuition Pre-Payment:
Joe Robach’s education plan would help parents save thousands of dollars in future tuition costs by enabling them to pre-pay for their children’s college education at SUNY and CUNY schools.
Empowering Consumers – Truth in Lending

The plan would designate the newly-created Department of Financial Services as an official “Truth-In-Lending” clearinghouse for information related to college affordability.  It would require the department (which already has extensive interaction with financial institutions) to establish a “one stop shop” for consumers to obtain easy-to-use, reliable information on college loans and interest rates.  This would help parents and students navigate the often confusing world of student loans and higher education financing so that they can find the best, most affordable way to finance a college education.

It would also require colleges and universities to provide additional financial information to parents and prospective students, including clearly outlined, easy-to-understand explanations of the debt burden a family (or graduate) would face depending on the loan they secure.  (Amount of monthly payments, interest rates, and total dollar amount of interest to be paid, etc.)

If you have questions about this education plan, please contact Joe Robach’s office. 

JOE ROBACH PROVIDES INFORMATION ON STUDENT FINANCIAL AID FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

Joe Robach knows that New Yorkers who are seeking a higher education often need to apply for financial aid.  Financial aid from the federal government consists of Federal Pell Grant Work-Study, Perkins Loans, Supplemental Education Grants, and the federal loan programs which include Stafford and PLUS loans.  NYS financial aid consists of the Tuition Assistance Program, Aid for Part Time Study, scholarships and other awards. 

Joe Robach, a SUNY grad, knows that one of the keys to getting an affordable education is understanding the financial aid process.  College bound high school students should contact their high school counselor or the Financial Aid office at the college they have applied.  Some colleges have their own financial aid applications.  The 2012-2013 applications are now available. 

Once the FAFSA is processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report or a Correction FAFSA.  If corrections are needed, follow the instructions carefully and provide any missing or inaccurate information.  If requested, take or send SAR to your college Financial Aid Office.  Joe Robach encourages you to keep a copy for your records as well as copies of any other education loan or scholarship information. 

After you send back the Express TAP application, you will get a TAP/State Scholarship Award notice.  If additional information is needed to process your TAP award, you will receive a Request for Information from the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation.  Be sure to provide the information by the date indicated.  The college Financial Aid Office will send you an award letter, detailing the aid you are eligible to receive based on your applications.  Accept or decline the offer of aid by replying by the deadline date.  Supply any additional documents requested.  To apply for the Federal Stafford Loan, you must submit a FAFSA and complete a loan application.  Contact the Financial Aid Office to find out about the loan application procedure your school uses. 

For more information about financial aid and pursuing a higher education, please contact Joe Robach’s office. 

 

JOE ROBACH ENCOURAGES NEW YORKERS TO PURSUE A STATE EDUCATION

As a graduate of SUNY Brockport on both the undergraduate and graduate level, Joe Robach is a huge supporter of New York State’s public higher education system. Joe Robach knows that New York is home to one of the best systems of public higher education in the country – the State University of New York.

With 64 campuses and hundreds of academic programs, New Yorkers are sure to find one that helps meet their goals. According to SUNY, nearly 7000 programs of study are offered – making it the largest and most diverse comprehensive institution of higher education in the country – and most likely the world. And the best part is, it will cost a whole lot less than the same great education at a private school. Campuses are divided into four categories: University Centers and Doctoral Degree Granting Institutions, University Colleges, Technology Colleges and Community Colleges. Joe Robach believes that every campus provides each student with a top-notch education.

Leaders of nearly every field have attended SUNY: Eileen Collins (Corning) who was the first woman to fly a space shuttle; actor Billy Crystal (Nassau); fashion designer Calvin Klein (FIT); journalist Brian Lehrer (Albany); opera singer Renee Fleming (Potsdam); and James Follo (New Paltz), CFO of the New York Times Company.

So whether New Yorkers are preparing to enroll as a full-time student or just looking to take a course or two, choose SUNY. However, before choosing a campus, students and parents should consider the following items: curriculum, location, cost, financial aid opportunities, student body size, sports and activities. Potential students should explore what every campus has to offer academically and socially.

Joe Robach encourages all college-bound students to consider a public higher education in New York. For more information about SUNY or financial aid information, individuals should contact Joe Robach’s office.

JOE ROBACH HELPING NEW YORKERS PAY FOR COLLEGE EDUCATION

Joe Robach knows that paying for your child’s higher education can be one of the biggest financial challenges facing parents.  If, like many New Yorkers, you are searching for ways to pay for college, it is important to know that Joe Robach and the Senate have helped to develop savings initiatives that make higher education more attainable.  

Joe Robach knows that our technological society demands a college-educated workforce that is prepared for the future.  However, soaring costs have put higher education out of reach for many New Yorkers.  That’s why the State Senate created the College Bound Program and the 529 College Savings Program initiatives designed to alleviate some of the burden of paying for college.  The College Bound Program was an initiative of the New York State Senate and allows New York State residents to benefit from the nation’s first full state income tax deduction or tax credit for college tuition.  Taxpayers have the option of receiving a refundable income tax credit equal to 4 percent of their college tuition expenses.  Individuals with less than $5,000 in tuition costs will receive a minimum credit of $200 and those with up to $10,000 of tuitions cost will receive a maximum of $400 per eligible student.  This credit is only available to full-year New York residents.  There is also a college tuition deduction which allows taxpayers an itemized deduction for the full amount of each person’s college tuition expense, up to $10,000. 

Joe Robach also supported the establishment of the 529 College Savings program which lets people build savings for tuition and related higher education expense in tax-free accounts.  The 529 program offers New Yorkers a fantastic, tax-free way to save for college.   

Joe Robach knows that it is important to understand all available options when it comes to paying for college education.  By planning for the future, New Yorkers of all ages have been able to make their dream of attending college come true.  For more information, please contact Joe Robach’s office.