Advocacy: The Issues

Take a closer look at our 2024 NYSACAC Legislative Advocacy Day.

“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”

- Maya Angelou 

2024 NYSACAC Legislative Agenda

Click here to view the 2024 Legislative Agenda.

In support of increasing student aid and support programs, New York State can deliver access and equity to all students, specifically those from historically marginalized communities. Higher education is the main vehicle to move individuals up an income bracket. However, by making it unattainable, students will struggle to move out of their current financial situations for generations to come. Thus, lowering the percentage of the ability to reinvigorate the NYS economy by having higher income earners reinvest in NYS long term. With this, the following are our focus of advocacy in this legislative cycle:

Also featured on this page for greater knowledge of our advocacy work:


Student Financial Aid

In New York State, as of March 31, 2024, approximately 2.5 million people across the income ladder owe more than $95.7 billion in student debt. New York’s college students are an essential part of our overall economy and future NYS workforce; contributing 2% to the overall budget. It is imperative that we provide the needed financial aid support to our students. Especially those who are low-income and students of color, as these students are more likely to carry the burden of loan debt and less likely to complete their degrees.


  • The maximum Federal Pell Grant award remains from the previous cycle (2023-2024) at $7,395 for the 2024-2025 academic year.

  • TAP is reaching its 50 year anniversary. The current TAP award amount is $5,665, remaining the same as last year. This should increase to $7,070. 

  • The total cost of attendance at every four-year institution in New York exceeds combined maximum Pell + TAP grants.

  • New York’s students are still dealing with the impacts of inflation, accessing basic needs, and the rising cost of college attendance. 

  • New York’s students are also dealing with the change to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which has a direct relation to the NYS aid program known as TAP.

  • The erosion of state support and the creation of growing funding gaps is translating into a decline in the quality of student services and education.

  • State aid can be used for tuition only, leaving students to cover significant additional costs of going to college; for example, to cover room and board, which many New York students struggle to afford.

Next Steps
We are in agreement of the proposed FY 2024 Executive Budget recommendation $43.9 billion for the State Education Department, an increase of $2.9 billion in funding from FY 2023. In order to serve our students, the state must invest more into financial aid and pass the following legislation:

  1. Assembly Bill 08089/Senate Bill S07931 - Increases the minimum tuition assistance program award from five hundred dollars to one thousand dollars.

  2. Assembly Bill A01889/Senate Bill S02811- Increase the tuition assistance program income threshold from $80,000 to $110,000 and $100,000 respectively. Both are currently in the Higher  Education Committee(s).

  3. Assembly Bill A01179/Senate Bill S00347 - Which increases the maximum years of study under the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). This legislation recognizes that more than 56% of students require more than eight semesters to finish their degree. Both are currently in the Senate Higher Education Committee(s).

  4. Assembly Bill A01164 - Require prior to awarding of a high school diploma either a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) to be filed or a waiver stating that they understand what the FAFSA is and have chosen not to file an application.  Both are currently in the Education Committee(s).

  5. Assembly Bill A00946/Senate Bill S01287 - Expands eligibility for the New York state excelsior scholarship award to certain applicants enrolled on a part-time basis or in a BOCES or other approved vocational program. Both are currently in the Higher Education Committee(s).

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Opportunity Programs


Opportunity Programs are designed to support the neediest students, aiming to improve the retention and graduation rates of those facing disadvantages in accessing postsecondary education. Qualification for these programs requires students to provide extensive documentation, creating hurdles that make it challenging to extend opportunities to those who could benefit the most.


  • The Executive Budget proposal would cut Opportunity programs by 3%. NYS funded Opportunity Programs at $115.75 million in FY 2024, reduced from $119.27 to reflect elimination of FY.There needs to be a reversal of those cuts and an increase over last year’s funding levels.

  • Governor Kathleen Hochul proposed to provide $24 million, or a 10% increase, to fund higher education opportunity programs and training centers administered by CUNY, SUNY and independent colleges. 

  • Graduation and retention rates of Opportunity Program students compare favorably to the general student population. First year retention, specifically at SUNY, where a student re-enrolls for a second year, SUNY senior college EOP students is 91%, whereas first year retention rates for the general student body at SUNY senior colleges is approximately 84%. The six-year graduation rate for EOP students is 73%, whereas the SUNY-wide senior college rate is 68% – similar results exist for opportunity programs found in the independent sector.

  • CUNY offers programming with similar success rates. Graduation rates for CUNY’s ASAP students are more than double that of their peers who are not enrolled in these programs.

Next Steps

Opportunity Programs are vital to the success of higher education access in New York State, which directly affects student outcomes. This can be support by the proposed bills outlined below:

  1. Assembly Bill A00749 - Requires that community colleges provide educational opportunity programs to eligible students in order to qualify for state aid for capital and operating expenditures.

  2. Assembly Bill A06788/ Senate Bill S07167 -Directs the boards of trustees of SUNY and CUNY to create a free or reduced meal plan to aid students whose household incomes are below the federal poverty line, students participating in educational opportunity programs under section three hundred fifty-five-d of this article and students receiving federal Pell grants.

  3. Assembly Bill A00803/Senate Bill S00937 - Creates a commission to evaluate the need for community colleges to participate in the educational opportunity program.

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College Students Experiencing Basic Needs Insecurity

Current policies and programming do not properly address college students’ basic needs including food, housing needs, and mental health counseling. Nearly 15% of New York’s college students that attend CUNY & SUNY have experienced basic needs insecurity, even prior to Covid.


  • According to a recent report, 40% of college students reported experiencing food insecurities in 2023, consistent to 40% in 2022, compared to 38% in 2021, 32% in 2020 and 19% in 2019. 36% of students have been reported to have dropped out of college due to the inability to afford food, up 2% year over year. Another third indicated food insecurity has “impacted their ability to study”.  

  • According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), 23% of undergraduate students and 12% of graduate students face food insecurity, indicating that over 4 million students lack reliable access to food. Additionally, 8% of undergraduates and 5% of graduate students are grappling with houselessness, affecting more than 1.5 million students.

  • Approximately 22.6% of undergraduate students indicate experiencing low or very low food security, while an additional 11.9% report marginal food insecurity. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released data estimating that around 3.9 million undergraduates face food insecurity, where 'food insecurity' is defined in this context as students having low or very low food security.

  • Housing insecurity among college students is high and has risen even higher. Data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study illustrates Data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study indicates that 8.0% of undergraduate students and 4.6% of graduate students report experiencing houselessness. This means that approximately 1.4 million undergraduates and 166,000 graduate students are experiencing houselessness nationwide. Reports show that the houselessness rate was 14% in 2021 for students at both two-year and four-year institutions. Additional counseling and support staff at colleges can help students address the mental health and logistical challenges associated with housing insecurity.

Next Steps
New York State can continue to address these issues by investing further in services for basic needs-insecure college students by supporting the proposed bills outlined below.

  1. Assembly Bill A02645 - Relates to establishing the “Hunger-Free Campus Act”; appropriation.  This legislation creates the hunger-free campus act, aimed at addressing food insecurity on public college campuses. Currently in the Assembly Higher Education Committee. (Senate Bill S1151 passed June 2022)

  2. Assembly Bill A00302/Senate Bill S02146 - Relates to requiring at least a ratio of one clinical, non-student mental health staff member per one thousand students on all SUNY and CUNY campuses. Both are currently in the Senate Higher Education Committee(s).

  3. Assembly Bill A00446/Senate Bill S01077 - Authorizes commissioner of education to do a study on food insecurity at private and public colleges.

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Bills to consider supporting the overall mission:

  1. Assembly Bill A05240/Senate Bill S007 - Allows CUNY community college students to transfer all earned credits to a New York state university.

  2. Assembly Bill A02038 - Permits students of SUNY, CUNY, or state-funded institutions of higher education to observe certain holidays without facing academic repercussions.

  3. Assembly Bill A02360 - Provides grants to SUNY schools, CUNY schools, and certain other degree-granting colleges and universities in NY to provide support and services for students with disabilities for postsecondary success.

  4. Assembly Bill A03321/Senate Bill S01079 - Prohibits awarding TAP grants to those enrolled at for-profit universities. 

  5. Assembly Bill A03295/Senate Bill S00948 - Requires for-profit higher education institutions to spend no less than fifty percent of such institution's annual revenues on expenditures in the areas of student instruction, academic support and advising, or career service.

  6. Assembly Bill A02314 - Creates the adult student grant program to provide financial aid grants to adults returning to college or seeking career education and training.

  7. Assembly Bill A07177/Senate Bill S03411 - Makes tuition free for New York state residents at SUNY and CUNY schools and community colleges; requires state residency and employment for a period of five years after completion of academic program.

*Please note that the majority of the items presented have been carried over from last year's agenda. We have observed limited progress on these bills and hope to see more action in the 2024 cycle.


NYS public & private higher education institutions enrolled 777,838 full-time and 334,247 part-time students, seeing higher than national average in student loan debt balance per capita.



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A note from NYSACAC’s Government Relations Committee:

Thank you for being a part of our Legislative Advocacy Day, and sharing your time with us. If you would like to further the conversation or have any follow up questions, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. We welcome the conversation and appreciate all the hard work you do!

A note from NYSACAC’s Government Relations Co-Chairs:

**Please note, none of this could have been accomplished without the hard work, dedication, and support of NYSACAC's Government Relations Committee members.

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