Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How to Keep TAP financial aid eligibility

Please help us make sure that your student remains eligible for TAP, the Tuition Assistance Program of the state of New York. TAP, as you probably know, is the principal form of financial aid from New York State. The most recent budget adopted by the New York State Legislature mandated a number of changes in the TAP program that will make it more difficult for students to maintain their TAP eligibility. It also reduced every TAP award by $75. Because these changes probably indicate the direction that TAP will continue to evolve, it is important that students understand their responsibilities to maintain TAP eligibility.
·         The number of credits that must be earned to stay eligible has increased:  Non-remedial students first receiving their state awards in 2007-08 and thereafter must earn a minimum of 30 credits (previously requiring 21 credits) and a 2.0 GPA (previously requiring a 1.3 GPA) before being certified for payment in the fourth semester. If your student needed to complete remedial classes at the point of admission, the GPA requirement applies to his/her fifth semester.
·         Students should make every effort to finish all of the classes for which they registered. As a rule, all students should weigh the impact that withdrawing from classes could have on their TAP awards. You can help by recommending your student  to consult with the Financial Aid Office before making any program change that could endanger his/her TAP eligibility.
·         Given the increase in the number of non-remedial courses that must be earned, it is essential that students finish any necessary remediation quickly. Otherwise, they will find it extremely difficult to earn the required number of non-remedial credits to retain TAP eligibility. Please help them avoid the mistake of thinking that remedial classes are not as important as the classes in their major; finishing remediation will be essential to maintaining TAP eligibility (and can help in retaining a federal Pell grant, also).
·         Everything we can see on the horizon suggests that eligibility requirements will continue to become harder. It would be a mistake to think that the recent changes will be reversed any time soon. If students find themselves slipping behind the standards, they should think about registering for classes or workshops during the winter intersession or during the summer. If they are having difficulties in one or more of their classes, they should take advantage of the tutoring and other services offered by the College. They should speak to their instructors, who can often help them get back on track. You can help: be supportive, be encouraging. You could also encourage elected officials to protect TAP from further cuts. Education is an investment, not an expense!
The TAP eligibility standards are likely to continue to change. The most recent standards are found on the website of the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), the agency that administers TAP. The most recent changes are found at
Future changes will always be found on the HESC site.
All of this is pretty complex information. However, we think it is important to get it to you as we learn it, so that you can remain in control of your education and are able to maintain TAP funding.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Calendars, MetroCards, and Books.

We are now in our third week of the semester. The halls are crowded, the elevators are full and students are getting comfortable in their new classes. To help your student, please make sure that you have looked at the academic calendar, which you can access from the Parents Page. Busy students don't always see the many signs on the College walls with messages like "No classes Thursday or Friday, September 9-10." Some take long subway rides to find out they could have slept an hour longer.

Notice also on the calendar that there are "Makeup Days." For example, on Tuesday, September 14, classes follow a Friday schedule. So, if the student has no Friday classes, then they do not have classes on September 14. Or the reverse - the student who has no Tuesday classes has to be at school on Tuesday, September 14, to attend their Friday classes. Huh? The reason is simple. Every college credit represents a mimimum of fifteen 50-minute "hours" of instruction. So, the semester has to have 15 Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, etc. Makeup Days give us that balance, making up for days of instruction lost because of holidays.

Books? MetroCards?  The Transit Authority supplies MetroCards to students in the K-12 world who live outside of walking distance, because the state is legally obliged to provide transportation to those students. Sadly, that obligation does not extend to college students. We wish it did.

Similarly, college students are responsible for purchasing their own textbooks. Textbooks are terribly expensive, and the prices rise every year. Follett, the company that operates the bookstore at the College, tries to hold down the cost, but the prices charged by publishers have risen every year. For the first time this year, Follett has made it possible for students to rent many textbooks (not all, though). Also, the Follett website allows you to link to other vendors to see if books can be purchased less expensively online.

All that said, it is essential that students purchase their textbooks at the start of the semester. Financial aid can sometimes provide vouchers for students to use for books. But the New York State TAP revisions have made these vouchers available to fewer students than before. Please do everything you can to help your student purchase books at the start of the semester. We know what a burden this is in a difficult economy. But, we know you share our strong desire to see your student get as solid a start as possible.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The fall semester is started (Academic Calendar)

The semester is now well underway, as we swing into the second week of classes. If you haven't already, you may want to take a look at the academic calendar for the fall, so that you will know the schedule that your City Tech student will follow. You can find it at http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/files/academics/fallcal_2010.pdf .

Talk to your City Tech student. If he or she is experiencing academic difficulties or feel that they are in the wrong classes, this is a time to visit one of the dedicated staff in our Counseling Center. A counselor can also be helpful in exploring whether a student is in the right major.

As you probably already know, colleges across the state are still coming to grips with the enormous changes that the New York State legislature made in the TAP program. We will continue to communicate about this as the situation is clarified. Unfortunately, we will all have to be patient a little longer, until the New York State Regents come to closure on TAP guidelines.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New York State Changes TAP Guidelines

The College has recently learned that the New York State legislature has made significant changes to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), the principal program through which New York State awards financial aid to college students. ALL student awards have been reduced and some students may lose their eligibility. It is really unfortunate that the State is making these changes so close to the start of the fall semester, and it is part of a long-term trend of reduced New York State support for public higher education.

We thought it important to get this information to parents as quickly as possible since some of you will have to make alternate arrangements for the payment of some part of your child's tuition. Go to http://www.hesc.com/content.nsf/HESC/201011_TAP_Grant_Award_Funding_Announced to see the changes in the TAP program. The College has a range of modes through which tuition payments can be made. You can see these at http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/adminfinance/businessOffice/bo_bursar.shtml . The College will do its very best to work with parents through these difficult times.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Welcome Message

Welcome to the City Tech family. Is your son or daughter just starting college? If so, it is important to recognize that this is a major step in your child's life. He or she will have more responsibility (and more ability to make their own decisions, for better and for worse) than in high school. College students have to take on the lion’s share of the responsibility for organizing their own time. Unlike high school, no one will be checking up on them on a daily basis to be sure they are reviewing notes, doing assigned reading and so forth. They have to buy their own books, apply for financial aid, make sure their tuition bill is paid and adhere to the strict attendance policy of the College.

You should know that they will have more homework, more assigned reading, and perhaps feel considerably more pressure than they felt in high school. They may have real doubts about whether they are up to the task. The College offers our students a wide range of support. Students should take advantage of the Advisement Center, where they initially registered for classes. For other academic and personal issues, the Counseling Center, directly across the hall, is available for individual and group sessions, at no charge. There are Learning Centers, where tutoring and other supplemental materials are available, in both the Namm complex and in Voorhees Hall. The College offers health services in the Pearl Building. We monitor students’ academic progress and reach out when they appear to be in academic difficulty. There is a complete listing of student services in the Student Handbook and on the College web site.

But, we can’t do it alone. Your support and encouragement are extremely important to your child, even when – in a completely age-appropriate mode! – they are reluctant to show it. You and the College have exactly the same goal: your child's success. We are very pleased to have you as a partner in reaching that goal. We will do our best, on these pages and elsewhere, to provide tools to help you in that role.

These questions and others of importance to parents will be discussed at the parent session of the New Student Orientation. We hope to see you there!