Gala 2018

Report - December 2014

Tapped Out

While a growing number of New Yorkers are enrolling in community colleges on a part-time basis, the state’s main financial aid program is out of reach for most of them.

by Christian González-Rivera

Tags: economic opportunity workforce development human capital low income higher education community colleges


  1. Under the state’s rules, 2-year associate’s degree candidates are eligible six semesters of TAP, while bachelor’s degree candidates are eligible for eight semesters.
  2. American Community Survey (ACS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS). Analysis by the Population Reference Bureau on behalf of the Working Poor Families Project.
  3. Ibid. A low-wage worker is defined as an individual 18 and older who is either employed at work or employed absent from work who earns below a state specific “low wage” figure (i.e., the national low wage figure multiplied by the state cost of living index). The national low wage figure was based upon the preliminary weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four in 2013 ($23,836). If a person works full-time for one year (i.e., 40 hours per week for 52 weeks per year) and earns $23,836 per year, that person would be making $11.46 per hour. The state cost of living indices used here, from 2011, are published in the article, “Real Personal Income and Regional Parities for States and Metropolitan Areas, 2007-2011,” by Bettina H. Aten, Eric B. Figueroa, and Troy M. Martin, (Survey of Current Business, August 2013): Table 1. The article is available online at (Feb.3, 2014)
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Tom Hilliard, Completion Day, Center for an Urban Future, June 2013. New York State Education Department, Office of Research and Information Systems. Website accessed April 12, 2013.
  7. City University of New York (CUNY). (2013). Undergraduate Enrollment by Degree/Non-degree Status, Full-time/Part-time Attendance, and College. Retrieved from, and SUNY System Administration, Office of Institutional Research. (2013). Headcount Enrollment by Student Level and Student Load by Institutions of the State University of New York. Retrieved from
  8. Tom Hilliard, Completion Day, Center for an Urban Future, June 2013.
  9. New York State data from Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC). 2013-2014 Annual Report. Retrieved from National data from National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP). 43rd Annual Survey Report on State-Sponsored Student Financial Aid 2011-2012 Academic Year. Retrieved from
  10. Tom Hilliard, Working to Learn, Learning to Work, Center for an Urban Future and the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, August 2007.
  11. U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
  12. U.S. Census, American Community Survey 5-year 2008-2012. Tabulated using IPUMS. Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Matthew B. Schroeder, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010.
  13. Ibid.
  14. State University of New York (SUNY) and New York State Education Department (NYSED). (2007). “Projection of High School Graduates, New York State, 2007-08 to 2018-19.” Retrieved from
  15. Lisa Foderaro, “CUNY Adjusts Amid Tide of Remedial Students,” The New York Times, March 3, 2011.
  16. IPEDS, see supra note 4
  17. Ibid.
  18. HESC Annual Report, see supra note 2.
  19. Internal CUNY document.
  20. Figure provided by the office of Senator Kenneth LaValle, the sponsor of the bill (S7795). Figure is an estimate of the cost for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
  21. State University of New York. (2012). An Analysis of the Tuition Assistance Program. Retrieved from
  22. Tom Hilliard, Completion Day.
  23. One major requirement for CUNY’s successful Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) initiative was requiring students to enroll full-time and alleviating the barriers to doing so. See Susan Scrivener, Michael Weiss and Colleen Sommo, What Can a Multi-faceted Program do for Community College Students, MDRC, June 2012.
  24. IPEDS, see supra note 9.
  25. Data from Complete College America cited by Hilliard, see supra note 15.
  26. Mark Kantrowitz. (2011, Feb. 11). “President Obama Proposes Cuts in Aid Programs to Preserve Pell Grant.” FastWeb. Retrieved from
  27. Kantrowitz, see supra note 18.
  28. David Leonhardt. (2011, Feb. 14). “Why Obama Would Cut Summer Aid.” Economix Blog, New York Times. Retrieved from

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