Advancing Conference’s Higher Education Agenda Aimed At Curbing College Loan Debt

ssembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) along with Assembly members Chad Lupinacci (R,C,I-South Huntington), Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Brooklyn, Staten Island) and their Assembly Minority colleagues today unveiled a legislative agenda designed to make a college education more affordable for students and families in New York State. Tuition costs have increased dramatically, creating financial hardships for families and saddling many young people with debt before their professional careers even begin. 
 
“New York’s young men and women are our future leaders and innovators who will provide the foundation for our state’s success,” said Leader Kolb. “Their hard work and creativity will bring them far; however, saddling them with tens of thousands of dollars in loans is unnecessary and counter-productive. The legislation proposed by our Conference will give our young people, and our state, a real opportunity to succeed.”
 
“College costs and student debt have skyrocketed in alarming fashion during recent years,” said Lupinacci. “It is unacceptable that the average student who attends a four-year institution in New York State graduates with nearly $30,000 in debt. Attaining a comprehensive education in New York should be an advantage, not a burden.”
 
In 2015, the Project on Student Debt reported that from 2004 to 2014, the average student debt at graduation rose 56 percent, from $18,550 to $28,950. To address the student debt crisis, Malliotakis and the Assembly Minority Conference have put forth legislation that would increase the number of students eligible to receive critically-needed tuition assistance.
 
“Too many New Yorkers are graduating with unsurmountable debt and we need to make higher education more accessible and affordable to our citizens,” said Malliotakis. “New York's Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) has not seen its income eligibility threshold increase in 16 years and graduate students were stripped of eligibility altogether in 2010. We must make these issues, not the Dream Act, our priority.”
 
According to the College Board, the average published tuition, fees and room and board at a private, non-profit four-year college (in 2015 dollars) was $16,143 in 1980-81. In 2015-16, the average published tuition, fees and room and board at a private, non-profit four-year college was $43,921, representing a 172 percent increase.
 
Similarly, the average published tuition, fees and room and board at a public, four-year in-state college (in 2015 dollars) was $7,362 in 1980-81. In 2015-16, the average published tuition, fees and room and board at a public, four-year in-state college was $19,548, representing a 166 percent increase.
 
Legislation sponsored by Lupinacci, co-sponsored by Malliotakis and supported by the Assembly Minority Conference would take steps toward reducing sky-high college debt by:

  • Launching a “Learning for Work” program in New York high schools, designed to accelerate career readiness by offering apprenticeships and enhanced professional degrees. The legislation creates a $1,500 per apprentice tax credit for businesses which accept apprentices (A.8695).
  • Increasing transparency by requiring colleges and universities to disclose certain financial statistics to students (A.8681).
  • Creating a Student Loan Payment Tax Deduction of up to $4,000 for single filers; $6,000 for head of household filers; and $8,000 for married filers (A.8675).
  • Endowing the Community College Merit and Mobility Scholarship Program, which offers the state’s top high school graduates $1,000/year scholarships to attend a New York State community college (A.8691).
  • Petitioning the federal government to support legislation which would increase the options available for refinancing federal student loan debt (K.00903).

In addition, legislation proposed by Malliotakis would:

  • Increase the household threshold income cap on tuition assistance for the first time since 2000, from $80,000 to $100,000 (A.3049).
  • Restore graduate programs as programs eligible for approval under the state TAP for the first time since it was eliminated in 2010 (A.3051).
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