Stirpe: Programs available to help CNY students achieve their education goals

Assemblyman Al Stirpe

By now, college campuses across the state are filled with students as the fall 2019 semester gets underway. Some students are beginning the next chapter of their educational journeys, while others are returning for another year as they continue to work toward their goals. No matter the circumstance, I want to wish all of them the best of luck during the year ahead and encourage them to keep up the hard work.

I also want to take this time to remind students and their families about the exciting educational opportunities right here in our own backyard. Preparing for a new semester can be a daunting task, but Central New York offers a number of resources to support students and help them succeed.

One way Onondaga Community College stands by its students is through the Box of Books Program. Textbooks are some of the most expensive materials required for college courses and can often present a financial barrier for some students and their families. By partnering with Barnes and Noble, OCC is giving its students the opportunity to pick up all of their textbooks in one package at a reduced price. Rather than students buying individual textbooks, often more than one per class, they’re billed $21.50 per course credit to their student account. If a student is eligible for financial aid, they can use it to cover the cost of the textbooks. Students can also opt out of the program if it’s not financially beneficial.[1] For more information, visit sunyocc.edu/index.aspx?id=40360.

For broader support, students and their families can turn to programs like On Point for College, which helps break down barriers for first generation college students who want to pursue a higher education. Students who enroll can get help entering a two- or four-year program, a graduate program or professional school or another type of professional training program. On Point for College offers support at every step, from college admission and financial aid applications to transportation for students who don’t have a ride readily available.[2] Visit onpointforcollege.org to learn more.

In the Assembly, I’m working hard to help make college accessible and affordable to all. I helped pass a state budget that makes critical investments in higher education, including continuing the Excelsior Scholarship, which makes SUNY schools tuition-free for eligible New Yorkers.

The 2019-20 budget also invests in the SUNY system, allocating $12.1 million to increase community college base aid by $100 per full-time equivalent (FTE) students, bringing the total rate to $2,947. Additionally, it provides $1.1 million for SUNY Child Care Centers; restores $1 million to Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking (ATTAIN) labs for a total of $5.5 million; and allows SUNY schools to reduce or waive tuition for high school students enrolled in college courses.

Further, the budget restores $15.8 million for the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) and $11.9 million for the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP). I also supported a budget measure that helps protect students from unscrupulous loan servicers by requiring certain student loan servicers be licensed by the state and prohibiting practices that could defraud or mislead borrowers.

Here in Central New York, there are many programs available to help ensure that students can reach their higher education goals. For anyone interested in beginning that journey, I encourage you to contact your college admissions office, use financial aid services available and stay informed about state support offered to students. In the meantime, I’ll continue to fight so that every New Yorker has the opportunity to pursue their college dream.

As always, my door is open. If you have questions about this or any other community issue, please contact my office at 315-452-1115 or StirpeA@nyassembly.gov.

[1] sunyocc.edu/index.aspx?id=40360

[2] onpointforcollege.org/getting-started

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