Republican Assemblyman John Ceretto voted Thursday for legislation to increase funding for the state's tuition aid program, known as TAP. The legislation was offered as an amendment to replace the controversial DREAM Act, which uses taxpayer dollars on financial assistance for illegal immigrants. Ceretto opposes the DREAM Act and is working with his colleagues for an increase in TAP funding in the state budget.
"It boggles my mind that we would consider putting the political agenda of illegal immigrants ahead of the needs to Western New York residents," Ceretto said. "College costs are higher than ever. Now is the time that we should be focusing on increasing TAP funding for New York residents. My constituents can rest assured that I will work to protect hardworking Western New Yorkers' access to an affordable college education."
Ceretto noted his own personal experience as the grandchild of legal immigrants who put him through college and helped his four children pay for college. Without tuition aid, Ceretto and his family would not have had the opportunity to succeed and be in the position they are now. Access to college was critical for Ceretto and his family, and he wants to make sure that dream is available to every working-class family with the ambition to seek it.
"I understand how difficult it is for hard-working families to send their children to college so that they can achieve the 'American Dream,' " Ceretto said. "Increasing TAP funding should come before passing the DREAM Act."
In 2013-14, 372,527 New York residents attending college received a total of approximately $935.6 million in TAP assistance. The state Higher Education Services Corp. states more than 5.2 million New Yorkers have received more than $22 billion in TAP funds since 1974.