Students plan to protest TAP cuts

St. John’s students will travel to
Albany in February to protest the
proposed state executive budget that
includes a $71 million cut from the
Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), and
possibly discontinuing the assistance
program for graduate students.

TAP is the largest form of financial
aid for New York residents attending
universities within the state. Governor
Paterson’s proposal will cut all TAP
awards with the expectation of saving the
government an estimated $50 million.

The group of students will depart
Feb. 9 from the Queens Campus and will
arrive later in the day in Albany.

“If I can get February 9 clear, I will be
there,” said Dalia Kamal, a senior.

At the capitol, students will meet with
legislators and attend presentations with
other private universities. The event is
being organized by the Commission on
Independent Colleges and Universities
(CICU), a non-profit organization that
represents over 100 private campuses in
New York.

According to Brian Browne, the
assistant vice president of Government
Relations, there are more than 5,000 St.
John’s students receiving some form of
TAP. The University is one of the largest
recipients of this state program.

“Right now we’re in the very beginning
of the process. The rest of the spring
will be spent negotiating the budget,
hopefully those cuts aren’t passed,” said
Browne. He said the trip will not only
allow college students to voice concerns,
it will give them an opportunity to “get a
crash course on legislative practices.”

Students feel that the cuts are taking
away money they have rightly earned.

“I don’t think it’s fair because it’s
something that I am entitled to,” said
Jacqueline Aviles, a senior and legal
studies major. “It’s something that a lot
of people are entitled to.”

This year more than 300,000 students
will receive state assistance to satisfy the
rising costs of tuition according to the
commission Web site.

In a recent statement Laura L. Anglin,
the president of CICU, said, “With
demand for state student aid at an all time
high, the executive budget released
today puts an obstacle in the path for
thousands of low- and moderate-income
New Yorkers enrolled at colleges and
universities in the state.

“By reducing the maximum TAP grant
and eliminating graduate TAP, students
will lose an essential source of assistance
for meeting current college expenses.”