Hochul applauds boost to state tuition assistance

FARMINGDALE — The New York Tuition Assistance Program, which provides grants to students pursuing an education at a SUNY college, got its first boost in over 20 years in this year’s state budget, and Gov. Kathy Hochul is lauding the move as a commitment to making higher education more accessible.

Since 2000, the minimum TAP grant for an individual has been $500 a year, and the maximum has been $5,665. For students still claimed as dependents by their parents come tax time, the maximum amount their family could make and still be eligible for the grant was $80,000, and for independent students the maximum they could make was $40,000.

Under the terms of the latest New York state budget, passed in mid-April, the minimum award has doubled to $1,000 per academic year, and the maximum income for a dependent student’s family has been increased to $125,000. For independent students, that income cap has been raised to $60,000.

“This all needs to be adjusted, otherwise, that ladder of opportunity comes crashing down,” Hochul said. “We have to build that ladder back up.”

Hochul said these adjustments should radically expand access to the TAP program, with 48,000 new students expected to be eligible for at least the minimum award under the new standards. The program will be open to part-time students as well, a first for TAP. The overall expenditure for the program in 2024-25 will be $1.032 billion, an increase of $53 million overall.

TAP awards are only available to New York state residents who attend a SUNY, CUNY or nonprofit independent college including Clarkson and St. Lawrence universities in St. Lawrence County.

TAP is only accessible if the eligible student fills out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, a dense document that requires in-depth financial information about the student and their parents or guardians, driven by their tax return information. Hochul said the FAFSA has been a complex document and a high barrier to entry for students considering college, and said that this year’s budget also included language requiring that high schools provide their students an opportunity to fill out the FAFSA, with institutional support, while they’re in school.

She said last year’s FAFSA applications were down 24% in New York alone.

“Last year, seniors left $225 million in TAP money on the table, unused in the state of New York,” she said. “I want every penny of that gone, so that’s how we start.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today