February 2003

Focus on Higher Education

From the NYS Assembly ē Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Ron Canestrari, Chair, Higher Education Committee

New Yorkers agree the governorís higher education cuts will jeopardize our future.

"For the low- and middle-income families who count on state support as they pursue the American dream of a college education, the Executive Budget effectively pulls away the ladder to a better and more productive life."

-Abraham M. Lackman, President of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities

"Any TAP cuts, especially coupled with a tuition increase, will impact thousands of middle- and low-income students in New York. Such proposals are indeed tax increases on very vulnerable populations and may end the college dream for many."

- Miriam Kramer, New York Public Interest Research Groupís higher education coordinator

"An increase of this level would be very harmful to many of our students."

- Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor of CUNY

"Simply put, raising tuition should be our last option and one that should be accepted with very great reluctance and only after exploration of all other options."

- Candace de Russy, Member of the SUNY Board of Trustees

"The Executive Budget presents challenges that would hinder our higher education system. The proposal to reduce the Tuition Assistance Program would produce an excessive student debt load and keep more students, especially poor and minority students, from graduating."

- Richard Mills, State Education Commissioner

"We estimate a cut of this magnitude would mean 4,000 faculty positions would be lost, the equivalent of closing four four-year campuses...this means as many as 88,000 students would be impacted by this loss of full-time faculty positions."

- William Scheurman, President of the United University Professions

"Tuition increases give the message that supporting higher education is no longer a public responsibility, and state and local appropriations decline."

- Barbara Bowen, President of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY

The governorís wrong choices will mean a $1,200 SUNY and CUNY tuition increase and a 33 percent cut to TAP

We face tough choices this year, but we shouldnít make wrong choices that threaten whatís important to our families, like a college education. The governorís budget will wipe out the hope of a college education for many New Yorkers by cutting higher education nearly $703 million and increasing tuition at State University of New York and City University of New York colleges $1,200, while slashing the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) by one-third. His proposal would rank New York as the fifth most expensive state-operated college system in the country.

In addition, heís cutting community college base aid by 15 percent, or $345 for each student Ė which will drive up tuition costs and local taxes on homeowners and businesses. In fact, for the past nine years, the governorís proposed budgets have cut support for higher education by about $2.4 billion.

The last time there was a significant tuition increase, attendance at SUNY and CUNY colleges declined by an estimated 30,000 full- and part-time students.

Tuition increase and TAP cuts are thinly veiled tax hikes

If the impact of the governorís tuition and TAP proposals were translated into the corresponding tax increase amount, a family with two dependents and a household income of $50,000 would see its tax liability increase by almost 40 percent under the governorís proposal.

Impact of governorís tuition hike and TAP cut as a personal income tax increase
Married filing joint taxpayer with two dependents
(Assumes $1,200 tuition increase and 33 percent TAP deferral)
AGI Current Tax Pataki Tax Net Tuition Increase Increase in Tax Liability
$30,000 $536 $2,070 $1,384 258.3%
$50,000 $1,557 $2,996 $591 37.9%
$80,000 $3,549 $4,916 $1,367 38.5%

The governorís cuts to EOP programs directly hit low-income families

The governor proposes to eliminate the Educational Opportunity Programs whose direct aid awards play a crucial role in completing the financial aid package for disadvantaged students. HEOP helps college students pay for textbooks and provides counseling, tutoring and a pre-freshman seminar to help acclimate students to the rigors of higher education.

The governorís proposed cuts also would eliminate programs like SEEK, College Discovery, and CSTEP which have proven to be extremely successful at increasing college enrollment of under-represented and disadvantaged students.

The Assembly has consistently fought the governorís cuts to preserve an affordable college education for all New Yorkers.

A quality higher education will prepare students for the jobs of the future and, in turn, will be an engine for economic growth. If we want to prepare our kids for a modern world and strengthen the economy, we must make higher education affordable and accessible for all students.

The Assembly majority successfully fought the governorís previous attempts to cut higher education and ensured that adequate resources were provided by:

  • Increasing aid to SUNY and CUNY community colleges by $175 per full-time student since 2000 to offset higher education costs

  • Raising income ceiling for TAP ó from $50,500 to $80,000 ó to make more students eligible

  • Increasing the maximum TAP award to $5,000

Fighting for a brighter future

The Assembly also created the College Tuition Tax Credit to allow families to deduct college costs and raised TAP awards and eligibility. Preventing students from realizing their dream of a college education is shortsighted. Rest assured, the Assembly will continue fighting for a brighter future for our children.

The Assembly has consistently fought the governorís attacks on higher education ó successfully restoring roughly $1.8 billion of the governorís cuts over the last 8 years.

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