Student Aid Advocacy Day Rallies Students Statewide to Push Legislators to Increase Aid and Expand Programs

News Date: 2/16/2022

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 4, 2021) – The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York (CICU) held its 2022 Student Aid Advocacy Day last week, calling for student aid increases and expansions across many state-funded programs. The programming included virtual informational sessions on February 1 and 2 and rallied students and faculty from over 50 New York colleges and universities to meet with over 120 state legislators. 

Led by CICU President Lola Brabham, the virtual programs included students speaking about why student aid matters to them, state legislators on their higher education priorities, and higher education advocates on next steps in the efforts to increase student aid funding. The meetings between students and state legislators were held on Feb. 1 and 2 and focused on the same core requests:  

  • Increase in the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) income eligibility limit to $110,000 (from $80,000) 

  • Support for TAP for the incarcerated and the Part-Time TAP expansion included in the FY 2023 Executive budget 

  • 20 percent increase in Opportunity Program funding for programs including the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) and its collegiate counterpart CSTEP, and Liberty Partnership Programs 

  • Increase in Bundy Aid funding to $60 million 

“We are very confident that the personal stories that students shared last week will inspire the Legislature to embrace state policies that support all college students in achieving their greatest potential,” said CICU President Lola W. Brabham. “CICU and our partner organizations will continue to advocate day in and day out to bolster student aid and increase support for proven programs. Now is the time to make an historic investment in a higher education ecosystem that supports all sectors.” 

The Feb. 2 “Student Aid Moving Forward” event speakers included CICU President Lola Brabham, Assemblymember Sarah Clark, and a panel discussion between representatives from College and Community Fellowship, which is spearheading the Turn on the TAP campaign for TAP for incarcerated New Yorkers, the New York State Financial Aid Administrators Association, the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling, and representatives of HEOP, and STEP/CSTEP. 

“I have long thought that we need increased eligibility for TAP,” said Assemblymember Sarah Clark, Chair of the NYS Assembly's subcommittee on TAP. “We need to start looking at increasing the award because it drops dramatically as families start to make more, which is still not affordable. We have not yet achieved a point where we are making college as affordable as we need to, and I believe the TAP program is poised to be our best tool to achieving this in New York state.” 

“We have reminded legislators how important it is that we be able to grow our programs and to provide opportunities for more students,” said Michael Molina, Fordham University, Association of Program Administrators of CSTEP & STEP President. “I think everyone realizes how important the opportunity programs are, and how important they’ve been over the last few years during the pandemic. Whether you’re in the Liberty Partnership program, the STEP or CSTEP programs, HEOP, EOP, college discovery, etc., the support and community that these programs have provided to students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds to be able to move forward with their education has been extremely important.” 

“I’m happy to be partnering with CICU on this because it is ultimately an issue of educational equity and we want to be pushing that constantly,” said Stephanie Bazell, Turn on the Tap NY representative.