Making College Affordable for All
Higher education should be a right, not a privilege -- the same way access to a quality high school education is a right. That is why I have introduced a constitutional amendment to make New York the first state in the nation to guarantee the right to a free, quality higher education.
Simply put, I believe we need to invest in higher education - whether that means a free and fully funded CUNY and SUNY, more funding for TAP, the Higher Education Capital Grant Program or a commitment to increasing “Bundy Aid,” all of which support the private, not for profit universities that play such a vital role in our communities and educational ecosystem.
Yet every year, state funding for our public higher education institutions continues to decline, and every year, the percentage of the budget covered by student tuition rises. Meanwhile, 50% of CUNY students are food insecure – and that was before the pandemic. We need to work to make public higher education free for all, and fully fund CUNY and SUNY. Here’s what we can do to make New York a place where everyone is guaranteed access to an excellent higher education.
Pass the New Deal for CUNY!
As a proud Hunter College graduate, I know firsthand just how valuable an education from CUNY is. There is no greater pathway to the middle class in our state than earning a CUNY degree. Every dollar we invest in CUNY is an investment for New York’s future. The New Deal for CUNY will make CUNY fully free for all students, improve the ratio of faculty to students, increase access to student mental health support services, and invest in the physical buildings of CUNY’s campuses to truly modernize our City University.
Increase the eligibility of the Tuition Assistance Program
New York’s Tuition Assistance Program is limited to students who complete their degree within four consecutive years. But data from both SUNY and CUNY show that the average student completes their degree in at least five years. Expanding the eligibility of the Tuition Assistance Program to six years will ensure that students won’t be penalized for having to add an extra year to their degree or from going to school part-time while they work to support themselves.
Expand opportunities for public service loan forgiveness
We should be supporting students who decide to dedicate all or part of their careers to public service. Both the nonprofit and public sectors benefit from the talent and experience that college-educated New Yorkers can offer them. Let’s improve access to the public service loan forgiveness program and find additional ways to encourage New Yorkers of all backgrounds to put their degree to work for the public good instead of having to choose between drowning in debt or choosing a job just for the pay.