Advocacy: The Issues

Click here to view the Slide Deck from the 2022 NYSACAC Mini-Conference Legislative Advocacy Day.

NACAC Legislative Agenda

As the voice of the college admission counseling profession, NACAC advocates for the best interests of students and members.

Learn more about each of NACAC’s policy priorities here- https://www.nacacnet.org/advocacy--ethics/initiatives/

2022 NYSACAC Legislative Agenda

Click here to view for the 2022 Legislative Agenda.

Overview of issues within Post-secondary Attainment and how to bring attention to these areas.

Main Issues

Additional Points of Advocacy

College Students Experiencing Basic Needs Insecurity

Problem: Current policies and programming do not properly address college students’ basic needs including food,  housing and technology needs as we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Students’ basic needs include access to nutritious and sufficient food; safe, secure, and adequate housing; affordable technology.

Context:

Nationally, surveys report nearly 3 in 5 students experienced basic needs insecurity due to the pandemic.

  • Recent reports indicate that 39% of college students face food insecurity.

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

    •  In 2018, surveys reported that 48% of CUNY students struggled with food insecurity. At SUNY community colleges, 45% of students reported they were unable to focus in class because they were hungry. Those numbers are even higher amid the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted low-income college students.

    • Surveys found that pre COVID-19 only 20% of food-insecure college students received SNAP benefits.

    • Congress temporarily passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which temporarily expands SNAP eligibility for students of higher education.  This needs to be a permanent adjustment for eligibility.  To be eligible under the expanded rules, a student must be:

      • Enrolled at an institution of higher education at least half-time as defined by the institution, AND

      • Eligible for a state or federal work study program, even if not enrolled, OR

      • Have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0 on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the current academic year.

  • Housing Insecurity and homelessness among college students has risen even higher during COVID-19

    • Surveys indicate that college students were experiencing housing insecurities directly related to the pandemic with 52% of students at two-year institutions (up from 46% in 2020) were housing insecure compared to 43% at four-year institutions (up from 35%).

    • Reports show that the rate of homelessness was 14% in 2021 from students at both two-year and four-year institutions.

    • A 2019 survey indicates that CUNY undergraduates found that 14% of students had been homeless over the previous year, 18% of community college students, while 55% said they experienced housing insecurity.

  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) highlights patterns of inequity in access to educational technology by socioeconomic status, both before and during the coronavirus pandemic.  Although the majority of schools and institutions have returned to in person classes in 2021 the need for equitable access to internet and technology services is imperative for post-secondary attainment with continued and rising cases that require quarantine and completing school work remotely.

    • In 2020 a survey reported that many students struggled to pivot to online learning from needing to secure technology and internet service, citing that the stalling of governmental aid was too late and impacted their performance significantly.

    • Reports indicate nearly 40% of students reported experiencing internet or computer-access issues. With 13%-14% of students suffering from academic challenges because they did not have sufficient internet access.

    • 8% of urban residents, nationally, lack access to broadband service speeds that meet industry standards; by contrast 53% of individuals who live in rural areas are limited by these same constructions. 43% of these individuals who do not have sufficient access to broadband service cite price as the highest contributing factor. Resulting in an equity gap for postsecondary attainment and retention.

Student Financial Aid

Problem

Student debt is crushing graduates and current students, which cripples their ability to invest in NYS. The average U.S. household with student debt owes about $57,520, as of 2020. 2021 census data indicates that 43 million Americans have student loan debt – 1 in 8 Americans. No public or private four year institution in NY State has tuition below $5,665 which results in both students and colleges & universities scrounging to make up the difference, since this cannot be covered by State aid alone.

Context

  • The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,346 for the 2020-21 award year.

  • NYS budget is providing a $500 increase in maximum TAP award for the 2021-2022 academic year. This means TAP has increased from a maximum award of $5,165 to $5,665.

  • Students are still struggling to pay the cost of attendance and the cost needed to be a student (i.e. textbooks).

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

  • State aid is unavailable to students during summer and winter months, prohibiting students from earning credits during those times.

Next Steps

  1. The State should expand access to higher education grant funds by increasing the dollar value of State grant aid and expand its use beyond tuition; for example, to cover room and board, which many New York City students struggle to afford.

  2. Consider the effects of the pandemic and how we can better support our students to graduate and reinvest in NYS economy by creating more opportunities for loan forgiveness like S7916.

  3. S7916: Increases the minimum tuition assistance award from $500 to $1,000 and increases the tuition assistance program income threshold from $80,000 to $100,000.

  4. A2323: Establishes the commission on postsecondary correctional education to examine, evaluate, and make recommendations concerning the availability, effectiveness and need for expansion of post-secondary education in the NYS prison system

  5. S1385: Relates to reestablishing part-time tuition assistance program

For Profit Colleges

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

Context:

  • 4% of college students in New York State attend a for-profit college, but over 40% of New Yorkers in default on their loans attended a for-profit school

  • 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. 

  • In 2022, students that attended for-profit institutions defaulted on their loans at the highest rate of 14.7%, compared to public non-profit of 9.3% and private non-profit of 6.7%.

 Bills to consider to support the overall mission:

  1. A3321- Prohibits awarding TAP grants to those enrolled at non-profits universities

  2. A3295- 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

  3. A1344 - promote professional staff development/increase, which will better support student development

  4. A2663 - Adoption of Statewide innovative pricing techniques and payment options for textbooks, supplemental materials, and other course materials.

  5. A6669 - removal of scholastic aptitude test and ACT assessment in the admissions process for 2024-2025 academic year and requires SUNY and CUNY to create a new standardized test by 2025-2026.

  6. S167 - Freezes tuition and creates a task force looking to create a report on the affordability of these public institutions

  7. S5047 - creation of appeals process for students who are denied the state resident tuition rate at any public university or college.

  8. S4461- finally establish a NEW Deal for CUNY; Enacts The New Deal for CUNY; increases the ratio of faculty and mental health counselors to full-time students; requires that certain amounts of tuition be replaced by federal, state, and city funds

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A note from NYACAC’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!

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