For Immediate Release
Nov. 30, 2021
United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, today launched its “NY HEALS” 2022 campaign with a press conference in Albany. At the event, UUP President Fred Kowal, SUNY students, New York state legislators, and coalition members called for the elimination of the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) Gap by fully funding TAP in the 2022 state budget.
TAP provides opportunity to access higher education through grants to thousands of students in New York state who otherwise might not be able to afford a SUNY education. TAP offers a pathway to upward economic mobility for those students and their families. Flat budgets and decades of underfunding have led to the TAP Gap, the difference between SUNY tuition and what TAP covers for students. This funding shortfall has forced SUNY campuses statewide to make up these losses and cover the funding gap themselves, forcing them to cut programs or crucial student services to make ends meet.
“For more than a decade, SUNY campuses have been serving students and their communities through education, research, and health care programs, and doing so on a shoestring. New York has reached a crucial juncture in the public higher education landscape — invest in our campuses and students, or turn their backs on providing world-class education and support for students,” said Frederick E. Kowal, UUP president. “With a new administration in place, we are confident that SUNY can and will be restored to a place of opportunity for all. We urge our lawmakers to commit to fully filling the TAP Gap this year so SUNY can once again invest in providing a quality, accessible, affordable education for students.”
“The role of government is to invest in its citizens, and I can think of no better investment than to use our resources to invest in SUNY and the futures of our students,” said Assemblyman Phil Steck. “SUNY and critical programs like TAP have grown and strengthened the middle class in New York state. The TAP Gap has been eroding the foundation of our SUNY institutions. To meet the directive in SUNY’s mission statement to provide ‘an education of the highest quality with the broadest possible access,’ the TAP Gap needs to be eliminated. We have the resources to make this happen and we should make this happen this year.”
"The discrepancy between the actual costs of tuition at SUNY schools and what a student is awarded is commonly known as the ‘TAP Gap,’ and we must find a way to defray the costs to students by addressing the gap” said Assemblyman John T. McDonald III. “College affordability is on the minds of many and we need to work toward an equitable solution. Now is the time to address the TAP Gap and I will continue to advocate on this issue as I have in the past."
“We must unify in our collective commitment to public higher education with a fully funded Tuition Assistance Program (TAP),” said SUNY Student Assembly President Bradley Hershenson. “Affirming our commitment through legislation to closing the TAP Gap today will pave the way for even more affordability and accessibility tomorrow. The time is now to rise and unite as a community to enhance academic excellence and student success!"
"The SUNY2020 law severed the relationship between SUNY tuition and the maximum TAP award. Instead of the state covering the financial aid of SUNY's neediest students, SUNY2020 pushed the responsibility onto college campuses,” said NYPIRG Executive Director Blair Horner. “As tuition went up over time, the gap between state support and tuition got bigger, creating the ‘TAP Gap.’ As the TAP Gap grew, college finances got squeezed. Last year, lawmakers took a big step forward by boosting state aid. This year, it's time for the governor and the Legislature to finish the job and end the TAP Gap."
UUP is advocating for key public policies that lift up SUNY and New York state’s education landscape as part of NY HEALS. UUP is also urging Gov. Kathy Hochul and state legislators to fix New York’s broken higher education system once and for all. The campaign calls for increased funding for essential programs like TAP after years of flat or reduced budgets, to reverse the decades-long disinvestment in New York state’s higher education system fostered by the Cuomo Administration.
UUP will continue its statewide campaign in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, and Brooklyn leading up to the 2022 legislative session. At press conferences in those cities, UUP will highlight priorities of the NY HEALS campaign, including the need for increased operating aid to state campuses; restoring funding for SUNY medical facilities and teaching hospitals; expanding SUNY’s Medical Educational Opportunity Program; and expanding the Excelsior Scholarship to cover non-tuition fees and room and board for students in the program.