St. John’s students will travel toAlbany in February to protest theproposed state executive budget thatincludes a $71 million cut from theTuition Assistance Program (TAP), andpossibly discontinuing the assistanceprogram for graduate students.
TAP is the largest form of financialaid for New York residents attendinguniversities within the state. GovernorPaterson’s proposal will cut all TAPawards with the expectation of saving thegovernment an estimated $50 million.
The group of students will departFeb. 9 from the Queens Campus and willarrive later in the day in Albany.
“If I can get February 9 clear, I will bethere,” said Dalia Kamal, a senior.
At the capitol, students will meet withlegislators and attend presentations withother private universities. The event isbeing organized by the Commission onIndependent Colleges and Universities(CICU), a non-profit organization thatrepresents over 100 private campuses inNew York.
According to Brian Browne, theassistant vice president of GovernmentRelations, there are more than 5,000 St.John’s students receiving some form ofTAP. The University is one of the largestrecipients of this state program.
“Right now we’re in the very beginningof the process. The rest of the springwill be spent negotiating the budget,hopefully those cuts aren’t passed,” saidBrowne. He said the trip will not onlyallow college students to voice concerns,it will give them an opportunity to “get acrash course on legislative practices.”
Students feel that the cuts are takingaway money they have rightly earned.
“I don’t think it’s fair because it’ssomething that I am entitled to,” saidJacqueline Aviles, a senior and legalstudies major. “It’s something that a lotof people are entitled to.”
This year more than 300,000 studentswill receive state assistance to satisfy therising costs of tuition according to thecommission Web site.
In a recent statement Laura L. Anglin,the president of CICU, said, “Withdemand for state student aid at an all timehigh, the executive budget releasedtoday puts an obstacle in the path forthousands of low- and moderate-incomeNew Yorkers enrolled at colleges anduniversities in the state.
“By reducing the maximum TAP grantand eliminating graduate TAP, studentswill lose an essential source of assistancefor meeting current college expenses.”