May 2003

Higher Education
Budget Accord

From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Ronald Canestrari • Chair, Higher Education Committee

Legislature makes the right choice –
Restores the governor’s drastic cuts to higher education

Safeguarding the dream of a college education and investing in New York’s future by:

  • Protecting TAP and Opportunity Programs
  • Keeping SUNY and CUNY affordable
  • Restoring Community College aid
  • Protecting local economies


New York faces tough fiscal choices this year, but we shouldn’t make wrong choices that threaten the future of our children and our economy – and that’s exactly what the governor’s budget assault on our colleges and universities would have done.

That’s why the Assembly and Senate passed a bipartisan budget restoring nearly $400 million of the governor’s $703 million cut to higher education – a move that will help safeguard the dream of a college education for New York’s students and help revitalize our economy.

Protecting TAP and Opportunity Programs

New York should be expanding access to higher education – not limiting opportunities for our state’s most disadvantaged students and low-income families.

That’s why the Legislature rejected the governor’s attempt to slash the Tuition Assistance Program, forcing students to defer one-third of their TAP award until after they graduated. The governor’s cut would have pushed them into further debt or to drop out of school. The Legislature also restored $36.9 million for the state’s Educational Opportunity Programs, whose direct aid plays a crucial role in helping New York’s most disadvantaged students. These programs help college students pay for textbooks, provide counseling and tutoring, and offer a pre-freshman seminar to help acclimate students to the rigors of higher education.

Keeping SUNY and CUNY affordable

The administration’s original proposal would have forced New York’s public colleges and universities to increase tuition by $1,400 a year – making New York the fifth-most expensive state-operated college system in the country. If the governor’s proposed budget went unchallenged, tuition at public colleges would have increased up to 38 percent, and critical financial assistance would have evaporated for countless students.

To lessen that financial burden on students and working families, the Legislature cut the administration’s proposed tuition hike by one-third, to no more than $950 per resident student.

Restoring Community College aid

Community Colleges are great places to get a college education – especially for non-traditional students working to acquire new skills for the job market. But the governor reduced base aid by 15 percent. The Legislature’s budget provides $79.4 million more than the governor’s budget to help SUNY and CUNY community colleges provide quality, affordable higher education, including $74 million in base aid, $3.4 million in rental aid, and $2 million in contract course aid.

Protecting local economies

The state Department of Labor has reported that in 2001, colleges and universities employed almost 240,000, and paid out almost $10 billion in total wages in New York State – figures that don’t factor in the ripple effects of on-campus student jobs or the money spent by colleges in the community.

This evidence proves how higher education affects our state’s many local economies, but the governor’s cuts to higher education would drain the vitality out of many communities – continuing the downward spiral New York has faced under the governor’s failed economic policies. The Assembly and Senate budget recognizes the importance of higher education, and helps protect local economies from his budget ax.

Investing in New York’s future

Throughout often contentious budget negotiations, the Assembly held strong to our position that education funding must be our top priority. The budget continues the Assembly’s tradition of improving New York’s public schools and universities. This year marks the ninth straight year the Assembly has successfully fought for solid investments in education and successfully restored billions of the governor’s education cuts.

New York’s working families count on affordable tuition and tuition aid to help build a brighter future for their children. As we actively pursue more out-of-state high-tech businesses to come to New York, we need to ensure that our workforce is well-prepared. Our colleges and universities are getting our students ready for these jobs while simultaneously driving our economies. The governor must now join the Legislature in making the right choice, and sign this bipartisan budget into law.

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