College Opportunity and Resource Expansion (CORE) Campaign Launches to Increase Affordability for ALL New Yorkers

March 9th, 2017

Today 30+ organizations and dozens of students launched the College Opportunity and Resource Expansion (CORE) campaign to extend college affordability for all New York's students, increase rewards for current recipients, expand income thresholds and create a $50 million zero-interest student loan fund.

In New York State, student loan debt outpaces any other consumer debt, and more than half of all household debt comes from student loans. This creates a serious financial burden for graduates and overall, leads to decreased economic growth. While students are being left behind, the cost of education in New York State has soared. According to a report by Comptroller DiNapoli, student loan debt has grown to $82 billion in New York over the last decade. In addition, the number of students taking out college loans in New York rose by more than 41 percent to 2.8 million over the past decade. Nationwide, that rise was sharper, with borrowing up nearly 60 percent to 43.7 million. Because of this exponential cost of higher education, students are now taking longer to graduate. Advocates are calling for an investment that allows all of our state’s students, including undocumented students, to overcome financial barriers, excel at college, and help boost New York’s economy.

The CORE coalition is urging New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature to pass legislation called College Opportunity and Resource Expansion (CORE). CORE increases TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) awards, expands eligibility to include undocumented New York high school graduates, and launches a new zero-interest loan program.

The package includes:

Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) Provision Expansion:

The program will Increase TAP awards and opportunities by:

  1. Raising the household income threshold from $80,000 to $125,000;
  2. Increasing the maximum TAP funding award for Fulltime students from $5,165 to $6,500 over the next two years with minimum TAP at $1000; and
  3. Extending ​Students with Disabilities TAP extension to be 2 years,
  4. Reinstating TAP access for graduate programs.

Create a zero-interest “New York Achieve Loan Program”:

  • Utilize New York State fund to create a $50 million “loan fund” for academically qualified college students at no cost

TAP access for undocumented students:

The program will extend TAP access to undocumented youth who:

  1. Arrived in the US before age 16, and
  2. Graduated from a New York high school or pass a New York accredited high school equivalency program

The following are quotes and statements from supporters of the campaign:

New York State Senator, Marisol Alcantara said, “Many New York graduates are saddled with burdensome student loans that hinder their future success and hurt our economy. The Tuition Assistance Program is New York's flagship college assistance program, but maximum awards have not kept up with quickly rising tuition costs. Awards are also denied entirely to undocumented students, who deserve the chance to pursue an education and career in our state. I am proud to support reforming and expanding this program, both by raising maximum available benefits and by extending eligibility to undocumented immigrants. The CORE legislative package, which is substantially similar to the IDC's College Affordability for All proposal, will provide students with much-needed assistance that will enable them to pursue their dreams and contribute meaningfully to the economic life of our state.”

Assemblymember, Carmen De La Rosa said, “As the first member of my family who graduated from college that has witnessed the struggles of a working family to invest in their children education, I am heartened to advocate in support of reforming our higher education system to become more accessible and affordable for all. Higher education should not equate a lifetime debt; it should indeed promote a path to success. It is statistically proven that students are taking longer to graduate and students with fewer resources are discouraged from pursuing a higher education because of the lack of funding for programs that ease their path to achieving higher education. New York State is very competitive and I firmly believe that a level investment in education will result in a surplus of individuals capable to uplift our communities. The students who benefit will consequently make sound contributions to society at large."

Assemblymember, Yuh-Line Niou said, “College accessibility is critical in developing a strong middle class, and I will continue to push with my colleagues to break down barriers to higher education, particularly for immigrant communities,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “I stand with advocates in support of college affordability and greater access to higher education, regardless of one’s economic or immigration status.”

Assemblymember Diana Richardson said, “In NYS access to higher education is vital, now more than ever before. With more college students graduating in NYS than at any other time, it is our responsibility to address the unsurmountable school loan debt these students are burdened with when they return to our communities. As a college Graduate and as a progressive I stand with students advocating for their futures. I support CORE because equity, particularly educational equity, is at the CORE of who we are as New Yorkers.”

Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition said, “The NYIC is committed to supporting our next generation of leaders - New York's college students, including the state's 400,000 immigrant college students and our undocumented students as well. Given the rise in the cost of living and tuition costs, we’re standing with our allies to demand that New York’s elected officials increase college opportunity and resources for all New York's college students - ultimately helping them earn their degrees, get strong jobs and take New York State to the next level.”

Hebh Jamal, a High School Student and Co-Founder of United Students of NYC said, "The rapid increase in tuition makes us worry more about getting a well paying job, instead of how we can contribute to the public good. School is no longer about wanting to be creative or innovative, but how to market oneself."

Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education & Member of CUNY Rising Alliance said, "Governor Cuomo's education proposals continue to fall short at providing the necessary investments to aid those most in need. Unfortunately the same stands true for his higher education proposals. If Cuomo were the progressive he keeps claiming he wants to be he would pass CORE, a program that would be transformative to low income and working class families."

Hawk Newsome, a leader for Black Lives Matter of Greater NY said, "I spent almost two decades as a student. The skills I acquired have prepared me for public service work. I am an educator and community leader, and I currently lead Black Lives Matter of Greater NY. The Bronx, where I call home, has the lowest educational attainment of any borough. This means that a pathway to college is almost impossible for many. Although I was able to graduate college, I now face a different challenge: I may never pay off my $200,000 in student loan debt. As a public servant navigating the increasing cost of living in our city, myself, and others like me, are left facing a severe deficit. It is very discouraging that the average student acquires $32,000 in school loan debt, while families in my community survive with annual salaries which are half of that amount. I call on the state legislature to fix the TAP Gap and provide all New Yorkers regardless of race, religion, or creed a fair and equal shot at success.”

Josefina Urbaez, Member, Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority Inc. said, "I am a proud alumni of SUNY Old Westbury and a sister of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority Incorporated. I graduated in May 2016 with a bachelors in criminology with the goal of working in forensic pathology. But my dreams were quickly dampened by the reality of massive student loan debt. I currently have approximately $30,000 in loans. I support CORE because I believe education should be accessible and affordable to all New Yorkers. It is time our governor and legislature stand with students and invest in our futures, and the future of our state. "

Tajzhane Green, Undergraduate Student Buffalo State College said, “I'm an undergraduate at Buffalo State College and I know all too well the burden of school loans as I've had to take a semester off to work to pay for school. I am a Panamanian American, a proud Brooklynite and I know all too well that higher education is the pathway to opportunity and is an absolute necessity if I, a woman of color hope to succeed. I am happy to join and support the CORE Coalition. I hope that the state legislature, students and advocates hear us loud and clear! We need to dig deep and figure out what the future of our state would look like if we continue to burden hard working students, citizens, and young black women like me - a child of immigrants with this insurmountable student loan debt.”

CORE Partners include:

Alliance for Quality Education

ADELANTE Student Voices

Apex for Youth

Arab American Association

Asian American Alliance

Atlas DIY

Baruch College Undergraduate Student Government

Black Lives Matter of Greater NY

Chinese Progressive Association

Columbia Chinese Students Club

Columbia Divest for Climate Justice

Community Voices Heard

East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU)

Greater New York Labor Religion Coalition

Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice

Hispanic Federation

Kids for College/ Wayne Action for Racial Equality

Korean Community Services of Metropolitan NY

Latino U College Access

LUCHA Columbia

Minkwon Center for Community Action

New York Communities for Change

New York Student Alliance for Immigration Reform (NYSTAIR)

NYS Immigrant Action Fund

OCA-NY Asian Pacific American Advocates

Rockland Immigration Coalition

Rural & Migrant Ministry

Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Families

The Guidance Center of Westchester's Center for College & Careers

United Neighborhood Houses

Young Invincibles

Workmen's Circle Young Invincibles


To get immediate updates from CORE , text CORE to 864237.

College Opportunity and Resource Expansion (CORE) is a coalition of over 20 student, education, immigrant and labor advocacy organizations and institutions based on New York State with the mission to protect the future of our students.