With the COVID-19 pandemic weighing heavily on schools and universities in New York, educators across the state will be relieved to learn that the New York State Assembly has increased the funding available to them.
As part of the New York State Assembly’s State Fiscal Year (SFY) Budget, $29.1 billion in funding has been allocated to support public schools, while $13.7 billion in funding has been allocated to support higher education in New York state. Public school funding is seeing an increase of $3.1 billion, or 12% from the previous year.
“The Assembly Majority has fought tirelessly to ensure every student in New York has access to a quality education, and we recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic posed many challenges for our schools and our students,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the funding. “We must ensure our children do not suffer as a result of these challenges. That is why we fought to ensure that federal funding for schools is used to supplement – not supplant – state funding.”
In addition to state funding, New York has received over $12 billion in federal funding focused on addressing pandemic-related education matters. The new budget includes $19.8 billion in Foundation Aid, also providing a three-year commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid, as well as $250 million in maintaining funds for Community School Aid.
“Our schools and our students have been faced with unprecedented challenges in the wake of this global health crisis,” said Education Committee Chair and Assembly Member Michael Benedetto. “My colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority fought tirelessly to ensure that federal funding was not used to supplant state funding, and that our schools and our students have the resources they need to overcome the challenges they face.”
The assembly’s approved budget also ensures public school transportation costs related to delivering educational materials, food, and internet connectivity are reimbursable. Additionally, $105 million will be invested in prekindergarten programs and the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative will receive $18 million in ongoing funding.
In the higher education realm, the approved budget increased the maximum TAP award by $500, bringing it from $5,165 to $5,665. The TAP grant maximum amount has not been raised in seven years, marking a new high for the crucial funding for college students across New York state.
“I am committed to ensuring that the cost of higher education is not a barrier, and that New Yorkers will be able to reach their full potential,” Higher Education Committee Chair and New York State Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick said of the budget. “It is in the interest of our state that we have an educated workforce and citizenry. This budget makes critical investments in SUNY, CUNY and opportunity programs that will make college a reality for New Yorkers.”
Of SUNY and CUNY, the Assembly rejected proposed tuition increases for both, including a proposal that would have allowed certain schools to charge higher tuition. Community colleges also saw a $50 per pupil increase in SUNY and CUNY community college base aid, raising the cap from $2,947 to $2,997.
$46.4 million in operating aid was restored to SUNY, while $26.2 million was restored to CUNY, and both received $100 million for capital expansion projects. CUNY is also set to receive $10 million to support wind and green power training programs, while the SUNY Education Opportunity Center (SEOC) will also receive $10 million in funding.
The budget includes funding for several SUNY-wide programs, including $6.6 million for graduate diversity fellowships, $2.7 million for small business development centers, $1 million total for mental health services, $500,000 for the Cornell Veterinary School, $350,000 for the Hispanic Leadership Institute, $200,000 for the SUNY Institute for Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, $1.5 million for restoration of the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (for total funding of $3.7 million), and $250,000 to the CUNY Pipeline Program.
The budget also includes $2.5 million in funding for CUNY’s Accelerated Study and Associates Program (ASAP), $1.1 million to SUNY and $902,000 to CUNY community college childcare centers, $579,000 for SUNY and $447,000 for CUNY rental aid, $196,000 restoration for Cornell Cooperative Extension, and an additional $500,000 for total funding of $4.4 million.
Assembly members have lauded the budget for providing almost $180 million in opportunity programs across New York state as well. These include $42.6 million for the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), $38.6 million for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), $33.7 million for Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK), $22 million for the Liberty Partnerships, $19 million for the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), $14.4 million for the Collegiate Science and Technology Program (CSTEP), $7.2 million for the Foster Youth College Success Initiative, $1.6 million for College Discovery, $35 million in Bundy Aid to independent colleges and universities, and $2 million for students with disabilities attending college in New York.
“The Assembly Majority is committed to putting college within reach for every New Yorker, and this budget will help do that,” Heastie stated of the higher education funding. “The last year has put a financial strain on families and individuals across our state, but we cannot let that be a barrier to higher education. We will continue working to ensure that people from all walks of life have access to the financial aid they need to earn a degree, get a good job and build a successful future.”