Tuition Assistance Program
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 this year. 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.
We’re proud that New York State has the country’s biggest financial aid program, but far too many low-income students who fall through the program’s cracks.
TAP’s “Independent Awards Schedule” needs an update.
More than 95,000 New York State students receive inadequate TAP awards because they qualify for TAP through the program’s much-less-generous “Independent Awards Schedule.” These students—typically working-poor, unmarried, adult students with no dependents of their own—can only receive up to $3,025 in TAP (dependent students can receive up to $5,000). Even worse, to receive their $3,025 maximum award, students on TAP’s Independent Awards Schedule must earn a net income of less than $3,000—a shockingly low limit. (Dependent students can earn a net family income of up to $80,000 and still collect a minimum TAP award of $500.)
Part-time students should have immediate access to TAP.
Part-time students are eligible to receive TAP only after they’ve completed one year of full-time study. To make college accessible to students who can’t afford (or have family/work obligations that won’t allow) full-time enrollment, New York should eliminate this requirement.
Students in emergency financial crisis need mid-semester TAP adjustments.
For years, NYPIRG has fought to change the law to allow a quick dose of extra Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) money for students who suffer a mid-semester loss of income. Two years in a row, we convinced the State Legislature to pass bills that would let students get more financial aid right away if their family’s income drops because of a death, divorce, change in military duty status, job loss, illness or disability affecting a student, their spouse or their parent. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed our bills twice.