State budget includes more funding for opportunity programs

By Madina Toure

State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) touted a 20 percent increase in the state’s 2016 budget for higher education programs.

Speaking at the annual “Parents Connected Day” event at Hamilton College, his alma mater Saturday, Kim said the budget includes $35.5 million for the Higher Education Opportunity Program, a program that provides academic support and financial assistance to students from low-income families, an increase of $5.9 million.

The Science and Technology Entry Program, a pre-college program that seeks to strengthen students’ skills in science and math, received $15.8 million, an increase of $2.6 million.

The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program also received $11.9 million, an increase of $1.9 million, and Liberty Partnerships, a program that prepares students for college-level work, received $18.4 million, an increase of $3.1 million.

Kim, who received a full scholarship for school based on state assistance, said he feels “personally obligated” to fight for more funding toward opportunity programs to give under-served minority and immigrant communities a chance to succeed.

“I’m thrilled to announce that this year’s budget includes a 20 percent increase in the state’s higher education opportunity programs and moving forward, I will continue to fight for the Dream Act, so that students of all backgrounds can be afforded the same opportunity to succeed,” he said.

The budget allocated $32.2 million for the Educational Opportunity Program, which offers academic support and financial aid to economically disadvantaged students, an increase of $5.4 million; $28.1 million for Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge Program, a higher educational opportunity program, an increase of $4.7 million; and $1.3 million for the College Discovery Program, a CUNY program that gives academic assistance to students who would not be able to attend college due to educational and financial reasons, an increase of $225,000.

The budget also includes $3 million for the Foster Youth College Success initiative, an increase of $1.5 million, to help students overcome the obstacles that come with being part of the foster care system and support them throughout their college careers.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.