ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
ORAL TESTIMONY WILL BE BY INVITATION ONLY
The crash of the housing market and the economic downturn have had a significant impact on the loan market and obtaining private college loans, and low-cost private college loans in particular, has became even more difficult for families. In the 2009-10 Executive budget the Governor proposed and the Legislature approved the creation of the New York Higher Education Loan Program (NYHELPs) to provide New York State students and families a lower cost alternative to other private loans in order to make up the difference between the cost of college and available State and federal aid. The program is designed to be a partnership between the State, private lenders and higher education institutions to offer both fixed and variable rate loans.
NYHELPs will provide, on an annual basis, a minimum of $350 million in fixed rate loans with individual loans of up to $10,000 to resident students, who have an eligible co-signor and are enrolled in a degree-granting program at a New York State college or university. NYHELPs requires that a student exhaust all State, federal (other than PLUS loans) and institutional aid that they are eligible for before they can apply for a loan. For fixed rate loans a lender will originate the loan and the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) will then purchase the loan with funds raised by issuing bonds. The program also allows for an unlimited amount of variable rate loans which would be originated and held by private lenders. The Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) is the agency in charge of administering NYHELPs and for developing regulations for the program, which will begin in the spring semester of the 2009-10 academic year. On September 2, 2009, the proposed NYHELPs regulations developed by HESC were published in the New York State Register. This begins a 45-day public comment period which will end on October 17, 2009.
As important as it is to provide New York families and students with the tools to enable them to affordably finance their education, it is equally important to ensure that they are informed, protected and their best interests are served. The Committee is seeking testimony on developing NYHELPs and how to best inform and protect students and their families who participate in the program.
Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation. Fifteen copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.
In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Legislature, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Legislative facilities and activities.