In his Fiscal Year 2010-2011 Executive Budget, Governor Paterson has confronted these challenges and addressed difficult issues. Yet, there was one proposed spending cut that will impact working families across our state and ultimately hinder our economic recovery for years to come.
Governor Paterson called for a $71 million cut from the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP.)
With a family income cap of $80,000, TAP is designed to benefit students from low-and moderate-income families and provide them with the financial support they need to earn a college degree. Last year, over 315,000 students in New York State received support from this vital program, with 58 percent of TAP funds go to families making under $20,000 annually.
During this recession, families such as these have been hit the hardest. According to a study commissioned by Northwestern University, families in this demographic bracket have an unemployment rate of nearly 20 percent, double the already high national average.
The economic consequences of the recession are not limited to only this group; on average, TAP eligible families experience 30 percent higher rates of unemployment and underemployment than their more affluent counterparts. They need the support that TAP provides the most, and Governor Paterson’s cuts, while well-intentioned, will only serve to deny them this critical resource.
Access to higher education is one of the most effective means of generating continuous economic growth. In an Arizona State University study, it was discovered that workers with a four-year college degree earned 62 percent more than a full-time worker with a high school diploma. Workers with college degrees are more likely to find and retain a job, and over the course of a lifetime will contribute nearly double the amount in taxes than their counterparts without a degree.
Moreover, as the global economy adopts a more knowledge-intensive focus, a college-educated workforce is integral to ensure our continued competitiveness in a rapidly changing world.
We have been blessed with an entire generation of bright, motivated young people who are willing and able to learn but can’t make the most of their God-given talent for want of money. Higher education is the key to unlocking the human potential that will better our lives, cure the diseases that shorten our lives, and ultimately create jobs so that we can all equally share in the good life.
During these times of hardship, it makes sense to invest in what will lead us to continued progress and prosperity, and I can think of no better investment than our students.
Sister Elizabeth A. Hill, CSJ,
President of St. Joseph’s College