Advocacy: The Issues

Stay tuned for NYSACAC's 2020 Legislative Agenda!

2019 NYSACAC Legislative Agenda

NACAC Legislative Agenda


College Students Experiencing Food Insecurity

Problem: Current policies and programming do not properly address college students’ hunger. 


  • 36% of 4-year college students reported low or very-low food security and 67% of community college students report experiencing food insecurity

  • Food pantries, which were a past NY State legislative initiative, are inadequate in reaching students.

  • Of all college students, only 18 percent are eligible for SNAP and only 3 percent receive benefits. This means that states are losing out on $4.2 billion in federal resources that could be provided to hungry college students.

  • Most college students are not eligible for SNAP unless they work at least 20 hours per week or receive a federal work study grant. Of college students who are eligible, many do not apply because of complex guidelines and paperwork or lack of awareness.

  • Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California have passed legislation allowing for full time enrollment in community college to count towards the federal work eligibility requirements. 

Next Steps:
New York State can address food insecurity by 

  1. Aligning Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) eligibility with need-based financial aid eligibility, 

  2. Allow college course enrollment to satisfy the work requirement attached to the receipt of SNAP benefits, and 

  3. Reduce application confusion.

Talking Points:

  • Paying for basic needs is a significant barrier to completion for students across the state, and particularly for underserved students, such as students of color, parenting students, and students experiencing food insecurity or homelessness. Hunger has a large impact on learning and college retention. The hunger and anxiety over when one will eat again makes it hard to concentrate and learn. Additionally, hunger may force students to make decisions that interfere with classes such as working longer hours at their jobs or taking long breaks from their studies to earn the money needed to buy dinner.

  • A 2011 study from CUNY revealed 42% students experience housing insecurity while enrolled; CUNY students access NYC’s shelter and public housing systems at rates higher than the city’s average. Nearly two-in-five CUNY students deal with food or hunger problems each year.

  • Students who have to make hard choices. Julia worked with a student in Far Rockaway who made the choice not to eat so she could buy a textbook. She lost her TAP because a course was cancelled too far into the term for her to add a course, thus ending up part-time. She was also in her last semester of college. 

  • The state legislature can also ensure that there is an updated public listing of all food pantries on each SUNY and CUNY campus.

  • Students who had free breakfast and lunch benefits in high school suddenly have to come up with another 3,000 a year for food (even if it's dining hall food)..

  • Many students are the "benefits holder" for the family, which includes rent subsidies, food stamps, cash assistance, etc, and have to make a difficult choice of either, not leaving NYC for college, or attending a community college because of the public assistance work requirements


For Profit Colleges 

Problem: The challenge of student debt is disproportionately high at for-profit colleges.


  • Despite having only 4 percent of New York’s higher education enrollment in 2012, students from for-profit colleges accounted for more than 40% of the student loan defaults that occurred within the next five years.

  • Over a third (39%) of for-profit schools in New York leave students with less earning power than a typical high school degree-holder. Nearly half (47%) percent of students who start at New York for-profit colleges default on their loans; 3 black students default for every 4 for-profit starts. 

  • For the 2012 repayment cohort, New York’s for-profit colleges generated more student loan defaults than all of the CUNY and SUNY programs combined, even though CUNY and SUNY enrolled over 12 times as many students as for-profit colleges.

Next Steps:

  1. Require that proprietary and for-profit report the salaries of their senior leadership and admissions counselors. 

  2. Prohibit admissions staff from receiving incentives or bonuses based on enrollment; and 

  3. Prohibit any school leadership from serving on an accreditation board of an organization responsible for oversight of the for-profit college to avert potential conflicts of interest.

Talking Points:

  • Students are often confused by the "perks" of for profit colleges (low tuition the first semester or year, internship opportunities, etc...) But when they get there they realize many of the promises were empty. IE: A student who chose to do ASA online so she wouldn't have to pay for a metrocard and her tuition skyrocketed her second semester.

  • Students who have encountered unfriendly and dismissive bureaucracies at CUNY or SUNY have found FPIs appealing because they offer on the spot admissions, scholarships for having a HS diploma, and promises of paid internships and 100% job placement. Many students who stopped out at CUNY and SUNY and owe money cannot access their transcripts and so they are unable to re-enroll. But the FPIs will take them without a previous college transcript. 

  • As a School Counselor, I have had to tell our school safety officers not to allow the recruiters in the building because even though I emailed them and told them over the phone that I would not invite them into my school building they would still show up. 

  • They offered my school principal a free bus trip, free lunch and raffle prizes for students to come on a school trip. 

  • My student attended an FPI for two semesters, and had to pay a fee to get an unofficial copy of her transcript when she wanted to transfer. There was no online system to access her grades, and she had to mail in her check and then wait for her transcript to be mailed back to her. And then when she transferred into CUNY, CUNY would not accept any of her credits. 

  • Admissions counselors are pressured to sign up as many students as possible. Many students have reported being told “false promises”. 

TAP & Opportunity Program Funding

Problem: Students who lack access to test preparation, adequate counseling and access to a college counselor are much more likely to be severely undermatched or not enroll in college at all.


  • Opportunity programs provide academic and financial assistance to undergraduate students who may not otherwise be able to attend college.

  • Opportunity programs have a proven track record in expanding access to higher education and improving retention and graduation rates for New York’s neediest students. 

  • Opportunity programs provide students with the financial, academic, and mental health support needed to be successful in college that they otherwise would not receive.

Next Steps:

  1. Simplify TAP regulations. Colleges interpret these regulations at a high level of variability and this impacts students ability to maintain their TAP year after year in college.

  2. With Dreamers now eligible to participate in opportunity programs, funding should be increased to accommodate all students who qualify. 

Talking Points:

Opportunity Programs

  • The Executive Budget released earlier this week included a 17 percent reduction to funding for opportunity programs including HEOP, EOP, STEP/C-STEP, LPP and others

  • Share stories about the impact that a cohort-based support program had on your students, particularly for STEAM students and students attending SUNYs that are majority white campuses. 

Simplified TAP

  • TAP provides an important source of financial aid for many students statewide. However, researchers estimate that tens of thousands of students each year lose eligibility because they require more than the allowed time to complete their degrees (three years for an associate’s degree; four years for a bachelor’s degree). In comparison, the Pell Grant program has a lifetime limit of six years, and even then, more than 40 percent of students take longer than six years to graduate and lose access to Pell funding before they finish their program. Furthermore, the TAP program requires all coursework to be aligned with a student’s major. While this requirement could theoretically help students focus on their major and finish their degree on time, these course and credit requirements are often confusing to students, unclear to many academic advisors, and are subject to differing interpretations by financial aid officers and state representatives.

  • We need to modernize the TAP application - as a counselor, I spend a lot of time ensuring that students complete the TAP application because… they cannot find the application link after submitting the FAFSA, or the student needs to submit a signature page for their undoc parents and never receive notification, etc. 

  • Maintaining TAP is a significant issue for our students in college. Students often lose their TAP once they transfer from an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree where they are often forced to retake courses. Many students report this often in the STEM fields, where core science and math classes are seen as not rigorous enough at community colleges- this is true at both CUNY, SUNY, and private schools. 

New York State Dreamers

Problem: Undocumented students in New York, entitled to primary and secondary public education and in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities, were previously ineligible to receive financial aid through state scholarships and grants despite their demonstrated need. They are still unable to get a driver’s license.


  • Nationally, only 5-10% of undocumented students who graduate high school pursue a college degree. As of 2014 there were an estimated 8,300 undocumented students attending NYS public colleges and universities.

  • Students are often unaware of the full implications of being undocumented until applying to college. Helping young people afford and attend college is an investment that will pay for itself.

  • College graduates pay significantly more in taxes than high school graduates. Prohibiting access to financial aid to Dreamers is in many cases prohibiting their access to a college degree and thus their investment back into New York. This aid includes Excelsior Scholarship, the NY Tuition Assistance Program, and 529 savings accounts.

  • Undocumented students and their families are still struggling, without access to healthcare, driver’s licenses, their livelihoods are precarious. By permitting undocumented residents to apply for a standard driver’s license, New York State would realize more than $57 million in annual revenue and increase public safety.

Next Steps:

  1. Pass legislation to provide driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status

  2. Ensure HESC provides guidance on eligibility requirements and streamlines the process to accessing financial aid expeditiously 

Talking Points:


  • Remind them that TAP/opportunity funding still needs to increase in the Executive Budget to ensure they can receive the aid they are now entitled to!

  • Explain public safety and economic benefits to the state if all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status can have drivers licenses. (Refer to Green Light NY Fact Sheet)

  • Identify ways that our immigrant students and their families are still vulnerable and how this impacts their ability to enroll in and complete their degree. 


NACAC Legislative Agenda
As the voice of the college admission counseling profession, NACAC advocates for the best interests of students and members. The foundation for NACAC's policy positions is the Code of Ethics and Professional Practices, which articulates the association’s core values, member conventions, and standards for professional conduct. The CEPP reflects NACAC's long-standing commitment to principled conduct among professionals who support students in the college transition process from secondary school to postsecondary education and in the transfer process between postsecondary institutions.

Learn more about each of NACAC's policy priorities here.


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