New York will increase funding for a critical college tuition aid program to provide an additional $165 a year per student, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday.
The Tuition Assistance Program, known as TAP, has now passed the $1 billion threshold, and it will award a maximum of $5,165 to more than 372,000 New Yorkers attending college, yeshivah or institute of higher education in the upcoming school year beginning in September.
It is the first time in 14 years that
the scholarship money was raised. Since 2000, students received a maximum of $5,000 a year, based on financial need. The average amount received was $3,049 per student.
“New York was built on the promise of opportunity for all,” Cuomo said in a statement, “and with this dramatic increase in the Tuition Assistance Program we are helping hundreds of thousands of students pursue world-class educational opportunities.”
Groups representing Jewish interests hailed the increase in funding.
“TAP is an essential program for all needy New Yorkers who attend institutions of higher learning — including those in our own community who attend accredited yeshivos gedolos,” Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel, said in a statement released to Hamodia. “It is wonderful news indeed that Governor Cuomo and the state legislative leaders have strengthened and expanded the program in this year’s budget.”
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the Brooklyn Democrat who was involved in pushing the law expanding TAP to yeshivos three years ago, applauded Cuomo’s statement.
Additionally, students who qualify as an orphan, foster child or ward of the court for the purposes of federal student financial aid programs will now be considered dependent students for the purpose of determining their TAP awards, making them eligible for the maximum award. This means some of the highest-need students will receive an additional $2,140 per year.
“Three years ago, we sent a message that the state of New York finds a rabbinical education to be equivalent to that of a secular college education,” Hikind said in a statement of his own.
The TAP program was established 40 years ago, modeled on the more famous federal Pell Grants that have enabled millions of Americans to pay for college. The state program was expanded to yeshivos in 2011.