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Letter: Let students use TAP at their ‘best fit’ college

Let students use TAP at their ‘best fit’ college

Regarding the editorial concerning the “free tuition” plan, nothing inherent in public higher education makes it less costly to operate than an independent college or university. The cost to educate students at different campuses does not vary appreciably by sector – public or private – but by size and mission. Many private, not-for-profit campuses are low-cost providers serving students from families of modest means.

Encouraging strong independent colleges and universities is sound public policy. Thanks to decades of financial assistance via the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and Bundy Aid, generations remain in New York for their “best fit” college. Our strong network of independent colleges allows New York to devote less to higher education as a percentage of its overall budget than all but seven states.

Independent colleges work to provide sufficient aid so students from low- and middle-income families can enroll. On average, students receiving aid at independent campuses pay $12,700 in tuition. While government-funded financial aid has remained essentially flat over the past decade, independent colleges have tripled what they provide to a record $5.1 billion. Every $1 of TAP leverages $23 in private assistance. It’s a tremendous benefit to taxpayers.

Our commitment to financial aid comes at a time that our campuses have redoubled efforts to streamline administrative expenses and deliver market-driven academic programs. We encourage policymakers to continue their support for all state residents by expanding TAP, allowing students of similar means to use their TAP awards at the college – private or public – that best fits their needs.

Mary Beth Labate

President, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities

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