Yeshiva Students TAP New State Aid

Amid Budget Cuts, N.Y. Jewish Students Get Windfall

TAP Dance: Yeshiva students in New York have benefitted from a change in state law that allows them to receive tuition assistance to the tune of millions.
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TAP Dance: Yeshiva students in New York have benefitted from a change in state law that allows them to receive tuition assistance to the tune of millions.

By Paul Berger

Published November 20, 2012, issue of November 23, 2012.
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New York’s TAP grants of up to $5,000 for students who are dependent on their parents and $3,025 for financially independent students do not have to be repaid.

Mark Kantrowitz, a tuition funding specialist, said the debate over subsidizing theological students usually boils down to a battle between those who argue for separation of religion and state and those who say all taxpayers should benefit from state funds.

Deborah Glick, chair of the New York State Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, opposed the change in eligibility rules when they were first inserted by then-New York Governor David Paterson into the state’s 2010 austerity budget.

Glick called the proposal “a fairly expensive new initiative in a year when we’re told there are no new initiatives,” due to budget austerity.

On November 8, Glick said she still opposed the change, not just for budgetary reasons but also because the seminaries run by the groups that benefit from the funds discriminate against women. The yeshivas in question do not admit females, and the groups that sponsor them sponsor no comparable yeshivas for women.

“I continue to think it essentially adds to yet another area in which there is a gender discrimination situation, a lack of gender parity, and that’s not a [cause for] happiness,” Glick said.

At the time the eligibility change was inserted into the budget, it was clear to most involved that the provision for theological students would primarily benefit yeshivas. But Agudath’s executive vice president, David Zwiebel, insisted other religious groups would benefit, too.

A report issued on November 1 by New York State’s Higher Education Services Corporation confirmed that yeshivas were the primary beneficiaries.


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