In a bid to increase financial aid for college students, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said the state Senate Republican majority has adopted a new plan to help alleviate some of the financial burden of a college education for low- and middle-income families.
The Feb. 15 announcement came one day before Gov. George Pataki unveiled a scholarship program funded by the New York Lottery to provide $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors.
"Perhaps the toughest challenge facing most families today is paying for the college education of their sons and daughters," said Padavan. "In New York state, average annual tuition has increased by more than 580 percent since 1974, with tuition at some colleges and universities up to $25,000 a year."
The senator also panned the governor's plan, which calls for one senior from each of the approximately 1,300 public and private high schools in the state to receive a scholarship of $1,000 for up to four years at any college or university in the state.
Padavan said the new lottery proposal was "just more of the same." He said the lottery continues to take money out of the pockets of people who need it the most by promising them the world through constant advertising and tries to defend itself by hiding behind good causes.
"The senate plan would be financed with general fund revenues," Padavan said. "The governor's plan would be financed on the backs of the poor and others who need help with a gambling addiction."
The costs of sending a child to college or a university is excessive, said Padavan. He said the state government needs "to make it easier for a typical Queens family to afford sending their kids to college."
Padavan said the Senate Majority's "College Bound" program consists of four elements:
* A lowering of eligibility requirements, which will allow another 50,000 students to receive financial grants from the State's Tuition Program.
* Increased minimum and maximum Tuition Assistance Program awards from $275 to $500 and $4,125 to $5,000 annually.
* Making college tuition fully deductible on the state income tax returns.
* Giving students financial incentives for community service and academic excellence.
Under the plan put forth by the state's Republicans, Padavan said, a family living in Queens with an income of $35,000 and a child attending a CUNY senior college, would receive an annual benefit of $2,050. If the child attended a private college, the family would receive a benefit of $4,469.
In addition, Padavan said families who are currently ineligible for TAP awards would receive both TAP aid and tax deductions.
He said once the "College Bound" program is fully phased in, it would cost $365 million annually.
"Our plan is better," Padavan said, comparing the senate educational plan to Pataki's lottery plan.
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