NYS Legislators Announce Historic, Essential Increase In SUNY, CUNY Aid and Elimination of the ‘Tap Gap’

State budget provides record level of operating aid for SUNY and CUNY while holding the line on tuition costs

BUFFALO – Assemblymembers Jon D. Rivera and Bill Conrad, State Sen. Sean Ryan, and representatives from United University Professions joined officials at SUNY Buffalo State College today to announce an historic $500 million in SUNY and CUNY operating support funds within this year’s state budget, and an elimination of the “TAP gap” – the difference between TAP funding for students and actual tuition costs.

At a time in which students are burdened with rising costs, a narrowing course selection and an array of instructional challenges, this year’s state budget provides much-needed investment in the SUNY and CUNY systems while offering students a reprieve by not asking them to shoulder an increase in tuition costs.

The New York State Legislature will continue to work to provide SUNY and CUNY with the funding revenues necessary to ensure that students across New York have access to a quality undergraduate education.

For years, the “TAP Gap” has been a significant funding hurdle for the SUNY system. It represents the previously growing difference between TAP funding for students and actual tuition costs. Prior to 2011, low-income SUNY and CUNY students would have their tuition costs covered in full by TAP, with colleges receiving adequate TAP payments to help cover costs for hiring new staff, funding libraries and investing in student support services. 

But for every tuition hike since 2011, colleges have had to cover the difference between state TAP awards and the actual tuition price for these students. The gap between what the state pays for TAP at SUNY and CUNY and the actual cost of tuition had left colleges grappling with a shortfall in funding statewide.

This year’s budget provides nearly $50 million to eliminate the existing SUNY Tuition Credit (TAP Gap) and the “Excelsior Tuition Rate Lag” by re-setting the rate of tuition charged to Excelsior scholarship recipients to 2022/23 levels, which will then re-set annually to current year levels.

Other higher education highlights within this year’s budget include:

  • $106 million — $53 million for both SUNY and CUNY — to hire additional full-time faculty at both four-year colleges and community colleges. This investment will fund additional full-time faculty — at SUNY and CUNY, including support for CUNY's plan to convert adjuncts to full-time faculty. In addition, the Budget includes a $110 million increase to fund fringe benefits for SUNY and CUNY staff.
  • $150 million to expand the part-time Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to support part-time students in degree-seeking programs and non-degree training programs at community colleges. For many students, full-time higher education is not viable with other challenges like work or families.
  • $100 million for nonrecurring strategic investments — $60 million for SUNY and $40 million for CUNY — to improve academic programs, increase enrollment, enhance student support services and modernize operations. 
  • $2.2 billion in new State-funded appropriations for capital projects at SUNY and CUNY — $1.2 billion for SUNY’s State-operated campuses, $879 million for CUNY’s senior colleges, and $102 million for community colleges across the State.
  • A one-time investment in child care ($10.8 million) and campus/college/hospital operations ($60 million) that are intended to increase enrollment, strengthen academic programs, and support the evolution of the SUNY System.

Sen. Sean Ryan said, “Increasing access to higher education is a priority for us in New York. Millions of students have passed through the halls of our public colleges and universities, and the Tuition Assistance Program has been able to turn dreams into reality for many of them. But with rising tuition costs and lagging TAP funding, our universities have been forced to pick up the slack, taking funds from other important areas. With this year’s budget, New York is fulfilling its promise to low- and middle-income New Yorkers that a college education is attainable.”

NYS Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “Obtaining a quality education is truly the vehicle to success. Tuition assistance should not be a barrier to furthering one’s education. I am proud of the work the NYS Assembly Majority has done with the enacted state budget to provide a record level of operating aid for SUNY and CUNY colleges and universities. Students and families across the state can now rest assured that they receive even greater support services, and state schools are equipped with proper resources to help usher the next generation of leaders.”

Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “Higher education is the bedrock of our community, and the unremitting issues of affordability and accessibility have made it increasingly difficult for younger generations to improve themselves by pursuing degrees. The significant investment that the Assembly and Senate majorities worked hard to achieve this session is simply a down payment on our state’s higher education systems. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the next generation of our state’s workforce can access quality instruction without being burdened with unreasonable and unforgiving tuition costs.”

Assemblyman Bill Conrad said, “As a two-time SUNY graduate, I not only know firsthand how transformative a higher education is, I also know there are a lot of New York families who, like mine, couldn't afford college if it weren't for the SUNY system. Having my choice of high-quality degree programs at a rate I could manage, along with financial aid provided through the Tuition Assistance Program, gave me an opportunity to pursue my postsecondary and graduate dreams, and to build a long and successful career in teaching. I was proud to join my colleagues several months ago at Buffalo State College, where we lent solidarity to the community's call for increased state funding for SUNY. We knew the system needed additional operating support to grow its enrollment and to close the TAP gap, ensuring continued access to the lifechanging power of college for future generations of SUNY students. I am proud of this budget's commitment to doing exactly that.”

Fred Floss, President of the Buffalo State chapter of United University Professions, said, “The UUP members at Buffalo State applauds the work of the Governor and the Legislature in understanding the importance of higher education to our students and the economy.Ending the rational tuition program which year after year raised tuition on those least able to pay is a first step in giving all students a chance for a quality education.The additional funding to close the TAP gap and enhance operating aid are critical if our colleges and universities are to succeed.We look forward to working with SUNY and the legislature to ensure colleges like Buffalo State have the continued funding they need so our students will be successful.”

Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, President of Buffalo State College, said, “SUNY is truly New York State’s engine for economic and social mobility and we are grateful that Governor Hochul and members of the Legislature have recognized the need to increase the state’s investment in higher education. The closing of the ‘TAP Gap,’ along with the availability of TAP for part-time students, will positively impact our campus and our students. We look forward to additional investments in the future as the Governor implements her five-year plan to increase operational support for SUNY.”