Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick
Higher Education
Michael J. Cusick, Chair, Subcommittee on the Tuition Assistance Program

Investing in tomorrow today

“New York’s economy is no longer based on manufacturing – it’s based on our brainpower. We’ve got to invest in our intellectual capital to replace the manufacturing base we’ve lost to overseas markets, and we need more full-time faculty to do that.”

—William E. Scheuerman, President, United University Professions

A budget that supports our colleges and universities.

The state budget approved by the Legislature makes significant investments in New York’s higher education system, rejects the governor’s harmful cuts, and blocks his shortsighted vetoes.

The budget will help strengthen New York’s higher education system and ensure that all students have access to an affordable college education by adding an additional $239.31 million in state support to SUNY, CUNY and community colleges.

A major accomplishment of this year’s budget is a $131.33 million increase in operating aid that blocked the governor’s proposed tuition hikes of $500 for State University of New York students and $300 for City University of New York students.

The budget also creates a new TAP program to help part-time students at all SUNY, CUNY and independent 4-year colleges and universities; increases overall SUNY/CUNY operating aid – allowing SUNY and CUNY to add more faculty; and keeps eligibility for full-time TAP at 12 credits.

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Increased funding for vital programs.

The 2006-07 state budget provides an increase of over $17 million in base aid to local community colleges. Other highlights of the plan include:

  • Increasing support for vital higher education programs like EOP, HEOP, SEEK, College Discovery, and Liberty Partnerships by 10 percent

  • Increasing Bundy Aid to private colleges by $4.2 million

  • A proposal allowing National Guard members, upon completion of their enlistment, to continue receiving tuition benefits if they were deployed in a combat zone and weren’t able to participate in the tuition benefits while enlisted

  • A proposal allowing an adjustment to tuition assistance awards for students based on special circumstances

  • Setting aside $1.8 million for new nursing scholarships and loan forgiveness programs

  • Restoring over $2 million for Regents Professional and Health Care Opportunity Scholarships

“This is the best budget for higher education that New York has seen in a generation.”

— Miriam Kramer, Government Policy Analyst, NYPIRG

Delivering Results.

The budget invests $767 million more in funding for SUNY/CUNY capital improvements over what the governor initially proposed.

“CUNY cannot survive as a serious university without the additional funds voted by the Legislature. What is at stake in these vetoes is whether New York State wants to support a public higher education system worthy of the name or not.”

—Statement of the Professional Staff Congress

The Legislature has a proven record of delivering results and keeping the promise of a college education within reach of New York’s students. During his tenure the governor has attempted to cut higher education by more than $3 billion, increased tuition by 65 percent, allowed state support for community college funding to drop to the lowest it’s been in 30 years and attempted to cut TAP 9 separate times.

Fortunately, the Legislature has stood up to these cuts and made critical restorations to higher education. Universities and colleges are vital to creating a well-trained workforce, new jobs, bringing in federal research dollars, and most important, keeping our young people here in New York.

The failure to properly fund higher education could have disastrous results for our future. Students have no trouble finding world-class learning institutions in New York, but the more difficult part is often finding the money to pay for their education.

Governor Pataki and his allies in Washington are trying to make it harder for New Yorkers to afford a college education. While the governor proposed cutting TAP for some of New York’s most vulnerable students, the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to slash $12 billion in federal funding for education loan programs – the largest cut ever to student loans.

“This is one of the best budgets I’ve seen. I think (the state Legislature) worked very hard and got a good result.”

—Richard P. Mills, Commissioner, State Education Department

A clear victory for students.

We don’t need to create more obstacles and expenses for students looking to get a college degree, and that’s just what the governor’s vetoes did. Fortunately, the Legislature worked in a bipartisan manner to stand up to the governor’s harmful cuts to deliver a budget that provides our students with the educational opportunities they need to succeed.

“Our public colleges and universities are the engines that can drive economic development across the state — particularly upstate. The vetoes would have pulled the spark plugs from those engines, but the Senate and Assembly have helped to ensure those engines will be up and running stronger than ever.”

— Alan B. Lubin, Executive Vice President, New York State United Teachers


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