Youth Advisory Board Celebrates Victory

Tuition Assistance Program Expands in New York State Budget


The District 1 Youth Advisory Board, a dynamic coalition representing the voices of Brentwood, Central Islip, and North Bay Shore's youth, is celebrating a historic achievement for students statewide: a significant expansion of the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) within this year's State Budget. The dedicated efforts of the passionate young advocates have contributed to the expansion of TAP, showcasing the power of youth activism.  

Created in 1974, TAP is a need-based college financial aid grant program, available to full-time and part-time matriculated learners who study at an approved postsecondary institution in New York State. The financial assistance provides crucial financial support to students who may otherwise not be able to afford a college education.

The State Budget's $20.7 billion investment in higher education elevates TAP's

minimum awards to $1000, and extends income eligibility for dependent students, changing the eligibility from $80,000 to $125,000. Investments in higher education also include significant allocations to SUNY and CUNY systems, as well as vital funding for opportunity programs such as HEOP, EOP, and SEEK, among others.

“This year was the 50th anniversary of TAP, and the income eligibility for a single person had not changed in decades, while tuition at universities has had massive increases,” explained Joshua Chan, Chair of the District 1 Youth Advisory Board. “The income eligibility is definitely a big change, because the buying power of someone who had 80k back then is not the buying power of someone who has 80k now. That is very important to look at, especially when we see underprivileged communities like Brentwood, Central Islip, and North Bay Shore, and towns all across the state, where students are really struggling to afford college.”

The District 1 Youth Advisory Board was founded in 2022 by Ahmad Perez to address the pressing issue of youth disengagement in community affairs. The District 1 Youth Advisory Board has worked diligently to empower young people in historically marginalized Brentwood, Central Islip, and North Bay Shore communities to take an active role in shaping their communities.

Members of the Youth Advisory Board strategically advocated for higher education initiatives, higher income eligibility, and increasing TAP through social media campaigns and direct engagement with elected officials, including Assemblymember Phil Ramos, Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, and NYS Senator Monica Martinez.

Alexandria Sisti and Chairman Joshua Chan shared their testimonies at the joint Budget Hearing for Higher Education at the State Capitol in Albany this February, urging legislators to prioritize the needs of students from diverse backgrounds. Brentwood alumni Alexandria Sisti shared her personal journey as a low-income college foster student. 

"TAP has been a lifeline, ensuring that each student has equitable access to higher education,” urged Sisti.

Following the monumental increase of TAP, the efforts of the District 1 Youth Advisory Board did not go unnoticed. 

The Board regularly hosts Youth Town Hall meetings, fostering communication with elected officials in government and young people. On Thursday, May 9, the Board partnered with NYS Higher Education Services Corporation by attending the Youth Town Hall meeting at Brentwood High School to discuss TAP and the victory.

With a motto of #BuildTheFuture, the District 1 Youth Advisory Board is going above and beyond to accomplish their mission, successfully advocating for a better future where education is attainable without crippling debt. As the Board continues their efforts to remove the barriers for young people of all backgrounds to succeed, the group will continue to be a prime example of the inspiring power of youth advocacy.


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