Aid Comes First

Cartoon by Derek Zimmermann
Cartoon by Derek Zimmermann

Times are tough — institutions of public higher education are losing state taxpayer support and administrators are calling for tuition increases to fill in the gaps. Although we at The New Paltz Oracle are pleased to see campus officials assist students as much as they can to supplement our needs, it is our hope that the state and federal government will take notice and try to help students graduate from college by offering more financial aid.

We applaud Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) for using leftover dining dollar funds for an applicable scholarship that facilitates internship opportunities.. Now is the time for others to lend a hand. We hope more campus officials will expand their programs to help students financially by producing more scholarships.

We understand that this can likely happen with donations from generous families and organizations, and we hope the more-fortunate will open their wallets for our sake.

There are currently 31 scholarships being offered to more than 8,000 students by the SUNY New Paltz Foundation. However, it seems like only a small number of students are aware that these scholarships exist. These opportunities should be advertised more openly on the homepage of the SUNY New Paltz website, for all to see, because it is beneficial for students to be aware of financial aid opportunities, especially during tough times.

Members of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives proposed the Full-Year Continuing Appropriation Act of 2011 (or H.R.1) that would reduce the Federal Pell Grant program, a need-based grant sponsored by the United States Department of Education, by $5.7 billion. This proposal will make it more difficult for students who rely on this kind of assistance to afford college. Cuts to financial programs like these could force college students to withdraw because they can no longer afford to pay tuition and other fees.

If the bill were passed, SUNY New Paltz would lose approximately $1.5 million in financial aid. This could essentially crush the opportunities of some hoping to receive a college education.

Officials and representatives at  SUNY New Paltz’s Financial Aid Office are advocating against these proposals. We urge them to continue, so we will not struggle to pay for education.

In order to expand educational opportunities, more money should be allocated toward institutions of public higher education. It is hard to see the moral logic in keeping business tax cuts for billionaires and huge subsidies for oil companies, while cutting college aid for students.

As college tuition continues to rise, this is the time students need college aid the most. Skimming off grants affects approximately 14,000 students in the 22nd congressional district in New York, as well as approximately 2,000 students at SUNY New Paltz. Every dollar counts.

We hope campus officials will continue with their efforts for more scholarship and financial aid assistance. We urge campus, state and federal officials to strive to put the education of those who attend public institutions first and to keep students in school no matter what their social class.