TAP - New York State Tuition Assistance Eliminated ?

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Discus: Financial Aid and Scholarships: May 2004 - Archive: TAP - New York State Tuition Assistance Eliminated ?
By Easydoesitmom (Easydoesitmom) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 01:10 pm: Edit

I am searching online for any press releases on the news about a possible elimination of the New York State Tuition Assistance program that has been done by the State for many , many years . My neighbor's daughter and my daughter just came back from Freshmen orientation with the news that TAP may not go through the State budget !!! My D has a summer job and only needs hers to cover book expenses but my neighbor's daughter who has no resources was relying on TAP to help with tuition . The girls are enrolled at a SUNY college . Anyone know about any recent development on this issue ?? How can parents send their Freshmen to a school , send in deposits , make plans for college when the possibilty of a grant may not materialize ??? Has it ever happened in New York State before ?? We did receive a notice that they did not raise the tuition for SUNY school in 2004-2005 so those students' protests must have helped .

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 01:50 pm: Edit

I haven't heard about the press releases that you are mentioning-that does seem quite scary. Both my mother and sister are enrolled in CUNY, and they both have TAP as part of their financial aid packages.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 10:18 pm: Edit

Every year that I know about, there have been caveats about TAP and threats about reductions and not passing it. I had heard a couple of years back that they were thinking it would be turned into loans (no interest charged until out of college or a given time period) but that the loans would be eliminated upon graduation. There was quite an outcry about this proposal, though I rather thought it was a good idea.

I have not read anything in the NYTimes about elimination of TAP. Go to their website and to a search on any recent mention of it to find out what is going on.

By Floppydee (Floppydee) on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 08:20 am: Edit

I haven't heard anything about this either, but it does bring up a thought I have been having. Last semester I received $100 in TAP (that's all-but anything helps), and when I filed I received the statement saying what I was eligible for back in like 1-2 weeks-and the whole process was very fast! This semester, I filed and it has been about 3 months since I filed and I keep checking the site-it says it has been processed and they will contact me in several weeks-but still nothing!! Just thought this is very strange!!

By Soulofheaven8 (Soulofheaven8) on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 03:43 pm: Edit

Regarding the TAP grants: my college uses a policy which they will reimburse the student with whatever TAP amount that was originally expected. For example, if the college estimated a TAP award of $5000, but the state only grants the student $2000, the college will come up with an additional $3000 in grants to make up for the difference. Hence if TAP were to be completely eliminated, it would mean more grants from the college. I'm not sure if public universities follow the same policy.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 03:05 pm: Edit

If you go on the Syracuse University website, there is a news alert on TAP. The story is that Gov Patatki has proposed budget cuts that involve cutting TAP money by quite a bit. The bill has not yet passed but is due to go for a vote soon. A website is listed for those who want to voice their opinions about TAP before anything is done. This is a big cut in TAP money that is being proposed, so who knows which colleges can afford to gap the difference.

By Easydoesitmom (Easydoesitmom) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 10:27 pm: Edit

Thanks for the tip . A call put into the financial aid office optimistically said that it will be delayed but by the way things are going lately , I anticipate some kind of cut to happen. It's such a shame because a lot of our really disadvantage kids ( my D was lucky to get a summer job ) have not found a summer job either & they really need that TAP.

By Easydoesitmom (Easydoesitmom) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 11:45 pm: Edit

There is a revealing letter about the TAP cut from William Smith - Hobart College :
The Legislative Gazette, Albany, N.Y.
Feb. 9, 2004

Once again Governor Pataki is proposing a restructuring of the New York State Tuition Assistance Program to make the program something it was never intended to be.

His recommendation is to make the TAP grant program a performance based program by granting the student their full award according to the current eligibility criteria, however 1/3 of the award will be withheld until the student graduates. At that point in time the withheld portion would be refunded directly to the student, along with any accrued interest on loans utilized to replace the withheld portion.

While it is true that this would save New York State considerable money in these tight budget times ($247 million), I would like point out the error of going in this direction.

I take issue with the Governor’s statement that when students do not obtain their degree “the State’s investment in their education through the Tuition Assistance Program is lost.” ANY education is never a waste. Even if a student does drop out (and this can happen for various reasons- often financial) the education they have received puts them at an advantage over the student who never attended post-secondary education. My fear is that by withholding funds right up front, many students will make the decision that they cannot afford to go to college at all and if college is not an option, some may wonder about whether it is worth it to stay in high school. We don’t want to take away the hope of future generations.

The Governor is making available a small amount of money to create a new state loan program which be utilized by students to replace the TAP, but only after all federal loan options have been exhausted. What does this mean- parents will be forced to take out the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), which must be repaid while the student is still in college. For families with low income, this is not an option- they do not have the resources to pay on these loans while the student is in school. I wonder if the Governor has set aside enough money to meet the needs of all students who would need to access this loan program?

If the student does choose to go to college, and manages to pay or borrow the money to replace the withheld TAP, when they graduate they will receive the withheld TAP, plus any interest on loans utilized to replace the withheld portion. My understanding is that this will be taxable income under both federal and state tax laws. So, the student will be unable to pay off the debt that they have accrued because they will owe a portion of this money in taxes. For students eligible for the maximum TAP award of $5000 for four years, this will be a check for $6000 plus interest. For students in the opportunity programs (programs designed for historically disadvantaged students) who are eligible got 10 semesters of TAP instead of the typical 8 semesters, this would be $8,250 plus interest. This will place them in a much higher tax bracket than they would be normally just starting out in their careers. Again, the burden of our state financial crisis is placed on those least able to bear it.
And for those students, who for whatever reason don’t graduate, additional loan debt will be their major issue- and because they have not received their degree- their level of income will make it difficult to manage loan payments. If these students have utilized either the proposed state loan or the federal parent loan, these loans are not eligible for federal loan consolidation- the process of consolidating all student loans into one more manageable payment at a reasonable interest rate. So again, these students have been “set up” for failure before they even start.

The New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) was created to provide access to higher education for students who could not financially afford to pay for college. What the Governor is proposing drastically changes the purpose of this program. Those who can least afford a college education will once again be faced with the issue of whether it is feasible to enter college because of a lack of funding.

As a financial aid administrator who works with students every day, I can tell you that the students who will be hurt most by this proposed restructuring of the Tuition Assistance Program are those who most need our help. I encourage each and every person reading this article to contact your legislators to let them know that- yes, we are in difficult financial times, but done solve our problems by penalizing those low income families whose only chance of obtaining a better future for their children is through education. Without the option of more education which provides better jobs- the future looks bleak. We either assist in paying for education to get people off the welfare roles, or save on education and put the money into increased welfare benefits.

Anne Barton
New York State Financial Aid
Administrators Association
Associate Director of Financial Aid
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, N.Y.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 09:54 am: Edit

Anne Barton's letter outlines the proposals for TAP as I understood them. I disagree with her issues with about the proposals. There is a problem of TAP money being misused and kids spending it, not going to classes and not bothering to drop the course and letting TAP and other resources pay for it. I saw some numbers on this when I was in NY and it was eye opening.By making it a loan program, it does put the responsibility on the students to bring the eduation cycle to it fruition.

For the most needy with abysmal completion rates, it will be another strike against them as they will owe the money and interest and penalities as they are unlikely to be able to get their degrees. For schools that have these students; those at the most needy level, I believe that some accomodation has to be made or it will harm the already weakest ones in the educational system. I doubt if many of such kids go to Hobart William Smith, though I have not checked the school on Mini's lists.

As for the reimbursement being a taxable item, I doubt many kids will have a large tax bill in their last year of college when the money is reimbursed. But I am sure some arrangement can be made to deal with the tax issue. Federal loans are forgiven under certain circumstances and there has been resolution on the tax implications for those programs. There has been no decision made on how the loans will be administered--whether they will be PLUS loans or special student loans. Since these are student awards, I would think the student would need to take out the loans, and there are options available so that the loans do not have to be paid until schooling is completed or a given period which is the time limit for the schooling to be finished. Interest only payments can be charged, or the interest can be rolled into the loan. There are already precedents for these procedures so I am not proposing anything new.

Money is getting tighter is the problem. I do not see any issue for those who are capable of going through the college app process and getting the loans. My concern is with those at the bottom of the income brackets who are kind of pushed into some college program with federal and state money funding it; they do not really understand or want to do this and then they drop out owing money putting them even at a further disadvantage. I work with a highschool full of these kids, and I always wonder how much of a favor I am doing them in pushing them into a college program where the chances of them even completing the course is so low. It is really more to provide them with a "taste" of the possibility of college. This is a group of kids that really needs more attention that is not getting it and to take anything from them is truly sinful--candy from a baby. beating down the helpless, etc.

By Floppydee (Floppydee) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 07:11 am: Edit

TAP has been saved through the Fall so far! Heard the great news on the radio this morning!

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