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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"College Affordability Plan"
ALBANY, May 23 -- One of our local legends, Mark Twain,
is credited with the following
college graduation season locally, statewide and across America, soon
to be followed by the class of 2012 moving on from their high schools,
so Twain’s words seem timely and traditional. But here at the start
of the second decade of the 21st century, a long ways down the road from
the days of Mark Twain, other thoughts inevitably intrude too. A Gallup
Poll last August showed that nearly 70% of Americans strongly agree or
agree that a college degree is “essential for getting a good job
in this country.” I don’t find that surprising. But it’s
also important to keep in mind a
In so many ways, far more than can be covered in a short column like this one, the above juxtaposition captures one key struggle for the next generation: college is fundamental to a successful future, but securing that future sure has become expensive and uncertain.
Sixty-one percent of students who attend college in New York leave school
in debt. In 2010, graduates from New York colleges had an average loan
debt of $26, 271, 10th highest in the nation. Five years ago the average
debt for New York schools was 20th highest in the country.
While this graduation season rightly remains a time of celebration,
we can’t overlook today’s reality that high college costs,
looming future debt and an unpredictable economic outlook have combined
to create a time of deep uncertainty for many young people and their families.
Not long ago, Corning Community College formally inducted Dr. Katherine
P. Douglas as its new president. I was glad to have this chance to welcome
President Douglas and look forward to the excitement and success of her
tenure at the helm of one of the nation’s finest community colleges.
Just last week, I joined my Senate colleagues in unveiling a new “College Affordability Plan” as a way to keep this critical challenge at the forefront of New York government’s attention. It’s a diverse strategy that seeks to ease the cost burden for students and families alike by doubling existing tuition tax credits and deductions to keep pace with rising costs. Among other affordability initiatives, it calls for expanding the availability of low-interest student loans – and cutting interest rates in half -- through the creation of a new public-private partnership. It seeks to encourage more of our bright, talented young men and women to stay in New York after they graduate in order to preserve the quality of our work force and, subsequently, strengthen our communities and economy alike. You can read more about the Senate’s “College Affordability Plan” on omara.nysenate.gov (click on the “College Affordability Plan” logo in the left-hand column of the homepage).
There are no quick or easy solutions. Most importantly, the discussion needs to be ongoing at every level of government, as well among colleges and universities themselves. The overriding point is that we still have plenty of reasons to be hopeful for the next generation and the dreams that young Americans have always had, from Mark Twain’s day to now, to pursue opportunities and define success in their own ways.
But here in 2012, we also have our work cut out for us to take better care of the future they’re moving toward.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869