*This page is a transcription of one section of the 2019-20 SUNY Student Assembly Advocacy Agenda. For a full directory, and more information on our advocacy, please be directed to the Advocacy page.*
The 2019-20 Advocacy Agenda
Ensuring New York State's Commitment to Academic Excellence
Building on the Excelsior Scholarship Program
New York State can build on the promise of the Excelsior Scholarship by easing certain eligibility criteria, which could open the program to more students. By streamlining the application process, guaranteeing fair treatment for students with disabilities, and offering more flexibility to transfer students during the credit verification process, more students would be able to take advantage of this important scholarship.
Year Round TAP
Currently, students can only utilize TAP awards during the Fall and Spring academic semesters. Students can use pell grants throughout the year however, creating a disconnect between what the state and federal governments allow. Allowing students to utilize their TAP awards during Winter and Summer sessions would allow New York students to complete their academic programs faster, and with less debt. The Student Assembly supports creating eligibility for TAP during all academic sessions
State Support for Community Colleges
SUNY’s community colleges are funded by a combination of direct state support, appropriations from their sponsor counties, and tuition and fees. The state support piece is directly tied to enrollment, with colleges receiving a flat amount per full time equivalent student. This means that cyclical changes in enrollment can have dramatic effects on a college's level of state support. We urge the state to institute a funding floor, equal to the 2019-2020 appropriation to each community college, and enshrine that funding floor in state law. This would allow community colleges a greater degree of financial predictability, and reduce the need for increases in tuition and fees on students.
Increasing Graduate Student Wages
All graduate student assistants deserve to be compensated at a living wage based on their community of residence. Limiting graduate level study to those who have the means to support themselves financially throughout their course of study is unjust. Campuses must increase stipends and overall compensation packages to ensure that the best talent can be attracted to our institutions while maintaining equitable access.
Support for SUNY’s Hospitals and Health Science Centers
SUNY's three hospitals and health science centers treat approximately 1.3 million patients annually, educate 12,500 students each year, generate over $5 billion in economic activity, and support almost 26,000 jobs. The Student Assembly encourages the State to restart its commitment to the long term fiscal health of our hospitals by restoring the state subsidy and providing the full state match owed to the SUNY Hospitals through the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program.