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3 approaches to making college more affordable

The Hofstra University campus is shown in this

The Hofstra University campus is shown in this 2014 photo. Credit: Johnny Milano

The student loan crisis has put the focus on making higher education more affordable.

Approaches vary, from capping tuition increases to increasing student aid to matching students with jobs.  

A few examples:

Price controls 

Private and public schools alike are reining in tuition costs.

At private Long Island University, tuition won't go up any more than 2 percent a year through 2020. The Brookville-based school put the ceiling in place three yeas ago after recognizing that its tuition increases were outpacing federal and state student aid.

In 2017, the state limited tuition increases at state-operated SUNY campuses to no more than $200 a year through the 2020-21 term. The legislature mandated he move to provide more financial certainty both to college officials and students.

Helping hand

New York's private colleges provided $5.7 billion in financial aid last year, according to the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, an association of more than 100 colleges and universities statewide.

The current state budget includes $1.1 billion for financial aid, including grants, scholarships and loan forgiveness, according to the state budget division.

The state Tuition Assistance Program, for example, provides grants of up to $5,165 a school year to students who meet income eligibility guidelines, according to the New York State Higher Education Services Corp., which runs the program.

Another source of state grants is the Excelsior Scholarship, launched in 2017. Full-time students who meet income-eligibility guidelines can receive up to $5,500 a year to attend state’s public schools, according to the corporation.

New York's STEM Incentive Program, also administered by the corporation, provides tuition dollars for resident undergraduate students who were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class and are going into science, technology, engineering or mathematics degree programs.

And the federal government forgives federal loans for those working for certain employers including government and not-for-profit organizations. 

Original thinking  

Long Island's colleges and universities are finding different ways to support students, from increasing retention rates so students graduate on-time to matching students with internships so they can find good jobs and pay off their loans. 

Farmingdale State College was one of the first schools in the SUNY system to implement a web-based auditing software program that allows students to see what courses they need and in what order to take them.

Now used by all SUNY campuses on the Island, the program helps retain students and increases their likelihood of graduating on-time, which reduces their overall debt.

Molloy College, a private institution, has worked to increase its internship opportunities through networking with employers across the region. It also is offering more leadership programs and civic-minded community service activities so students graduate with real-world experience.

Hofstra University, also private, is increasing opportunities for research and study abroad in its effort to make students more attractive to potential employers. Its business school, for example, partners with a business school in China so students graduate with two degrees — one from Hofstra and one from China. 

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