ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State budget is due in about two weeks. Between now and then lawmakers and the Governor will need to come up with an agreement on everything from taxes to healthcare spending. When it comes to the Assembly and Senate budget proposals on higher education, the Tuition Assistance Program, or TAP would get a boost. 

“We’re very excited to see that both houses are addressing the tap gap through a means by which students will be getting more assistance with the increase in the maximum TAP award by $1,000,” said UUP President Fred Kowal. That means the maximum award for students at public or private colleges would go up to more than $6,000. “It… helps private colleges. Many of the small liberal arts colleges are on the financial ropes,” said NYPIRG Executive Director Blair Horner.

The Senate and Assembly also reject proposed tuition increases. Unlike the Executive budget proposal, the chambers were able to put together their proposals after a federal stimulus deal was reached. “I think the higher education budget advanced by both houses are very similar in terms of how they restore cuts and in their spending allocations, and it’s a market difference from what the Governor advanced in January,” Horner said. 

Something else Kowal would like to see in a finalized budget is hazard pay for SUNY hospitals. “Downstate was a COVID only hospital, Stony Brook and upstate took large numbers of patients during the worst of the COVID crisis. And they still are,” Kowal said.

Both the Senate and Assembly proposals would also provide additional funding for mental health services at SUNY campuses.