Initiatives To Support Students And Increase Access To Higher Education

Published

Governor Hochul Announces Key Initiatives to Support Students and Increase Access to Higher Education in FY 2025 Enacted Budget    

Expands Access to Financial Aid by Making FAFSA Completion Universal in New York State      

Modifies Tuition Assistance Program Qualifications to Increase Minimum Award To $1,000 and Raise Student Income Limits     

Includes $1.29 Billion in New Capital Funding and $409 Million in New Operating Support for Public Colleges   

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced major investments and initiatives to increase access to higher education in the FY 2025 Enacted Budget. The Budget takes key steps to expand access to financial aid and invest in State University of New York and City University of New York campuses.       

“When my dad got his college degree, our family’s life was changed forever. I want every New York student to have that opportunity,” Governor Hochul said. “In the FY 2025 Enacted Budget, we are taking critical steps toward expanding access to financial aid and ensure every New York student can continue their education.”   

In the two previous Budgets enacted under Governor Hochul, State operating funding for higher education has increased by a total of $1.07 billion, growing from $6.15 billion to $7.22 billion. The FY 2025 Enacted Budget continues to make record investments to expand access to higher education and ensure all students get the opportunities they deserve, bringing total State operating funding to $7.58 billion.  

Expanding Access to Higher Education   

Universal FAFSA Completion   
The FY 2025 Enacted Budget includes Governor Hochul’s plan to require school districts to ensure every high school senior completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the New York State Dream Act Application. Students who choose not to fill out an application must sign a waiver form indicating that they are aware of the available financial aid but choose not to pursue it.   

Last year, New York’s high school students left over $200 million in federal aid unclaimed by not filling out the FAFSA. With FAFSA submission rates down by 24 percent in New York State this year, Governor Hochul is committed to ensuring students know what aid is available to them and can access that support for college.   

Tuition Assistance Program   
To help expand access to higher education, the FY 2025 Enacted Budget increases the minimum Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award from $500 to $1,000. Additionally, the Budget increases the dependent student net taxable income (NTI) limit for TAP eligibility from $80,000 to $125,000, the independent married student NTI limit from $40,000 to $60,000, and the independent single student NTI limit from $10,000 to $30,000. These changes are estimated to cost $66 million and benefit roughly 93,000 students in public and private colleges and universities, including 48,000 students newly eligible for TAP.  

TAP is one of the nation's largest need-based college financial aid grant programs, and since its inception in 1974, it was provided nearly $30 billion to help more than 6 million New Yorkers attend college.   

Investing in Colleges and Universities   

SUNY and CUNY Campuses   
The FY 2025 Enacted Budget provides an unprecedented level of support for SUNY and CUNY. This includes funding to implement Governor Hochul's vision for the transformation of SUNY and strategic investments in CUNY. This funding will help both systems increase enrollment and completion rates, prepare students for in-demand jobs, ensure a world-class student experience, recruit top faculty, and provide a wide range of degrees and credentials.   

The Budget provides $396 million in new State operating support including $150 million for SUNY State-operated campuses, $100 million for SUNY Downstate, and $146 million for CUNY senior colleges. The Budget also provides $22.5 million of additional funding for targeted investments, including several initiatives announced in the Governor's State of the State, such as $2.5 million for the operating costs of SUNY's participation in the Empire AI consortium and $2.75 million for the SUNY Empire State Service Corps, as well as a $4 million investment in the CUNY School of Medicine.  

Finally, the Budget provides $1.13 billion in new funding for capital projects to help maintain existing facilities at SUNY State-operated campuses and CUNY senior colleges in a state of good repair and make strategic investments in new facilities ($710 million and $424 million, respectively).  

Community Colleges   
Community colleges are a critical part of New York’s higher education system, and the FY 2025 Enacted Budget maintains a funding floor, 100 percent of prior year funding, to ensure these institutions have the funding they need to support their students.   

The Budget also includes $13.3 million ($8 million for SUNY and $5.3 million for CUNY) in additional base aid for community colleges. Finally, the Budget provides $154 million of funding as the State match for capital projects at SUNY and CUNY community colleges ($138 million and $16 million, respectively).  

Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program (HECap)  
The FY 2025 Enacted Budget includes $40 million in new State funding for competitive matching capital grants for eligible private colleges and universities.