NYPIRG’s Higher Education Project promotes access to affordable, high-quality college education for all students. Working with the project, students learn to become effective advocates by collaborating with a team of issue experts, policy analysts and attorneys. Together, we promote legislation and state budget priorities that help keep college costs down and expand educational opportunities. We also teach students how to manage their college loan debt and save money on textbooks.
Motivated students can find a path to leadership with the Higher Education Project, along with opportunities to gain highly sought-after skills as they organize events, conduct research and issue reports, host news conferences, testify before governmental bodies, and engage lawmakers.
Protecting Funding for Higher Education: Hundreds of millions of dollars in unfair budget cuts have led to tuition hikes, overcrowded classes and dwindling course offerings at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the State University of New York (SUNY). Students’ graduations are being delayed, services and financial aid are being cut, and critical maintenance needs are being ignored because of a lack of adequate public funding for higher education.
To protect SUNY and CUNY and fulfill the state’s promise of access and affordability, students working with NYPIRG are pushing their state lawmakers to stand up for students and restore the recent cuts to public higher education. In good times and in bad, public investment in higher education makes sense.
Making Textbooks Affordable: NYPIRG is helping students comparison shop and rent books online, persuading faculty to assign cheaper textbooks, and advocating campus-level money savers like book exchanges and discount programs. We’re also watchdogging colleges’ implementation of new federal and state textbooks laws.
Restoring and Protecting the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP): The Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) provides financial aid, based on sliding income scales, to New York State students who attend public and private colleges in New York State. Unfortunately, all 375,000 TAP recipients had their awards cut by $75 in 2010. On top of that, rule changes built into the state budget have reduced or eliminated TAP awards for graduate students, dependents of retired workers, and students who were struggling with grades or federal student loans.
Students working with NYPIRG are fighting to restores these cuts, which fall hardest on low-income students. Long term, we are also advocating to expand part-time students’ access to TAP, make the program flexible enough to help students in emergency financial crisis, and reform TAP’s “Independent Awards Schedule,” which shortchanges working-poor, unmarried, adult students with no dependents of their own.
Federal Higher Education Issues: NYPIRG partnered with student groups from across the nation to pass the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, a new law that will lead to big increases in federal Pell grants for lower-income students and eliminate wasteful subsidies to private lenders.