Last September, LIU Post’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) Director, William Clyde, announced to the program that all new, incoming fresh¬men would not be covered for their housing expenses. Due to governmental bud¬get cuts, Clyde stated, new HEOP students will no longer have the option to apply for room and board as they did in the past.
HEOP is a program that accepts underprivileged students who would not have otherwise been accepted through LIU Post admissions. The program works with New York State and provides financial and supportive aid for students who may need the extra help and would benefit academically from it. “The assistance of the program helps all the students and it continues to show well,” stated Clyde.
“HEOP has given me the opportunity to get a great education without worrying how am I going to afford this,” explains senior Health Care Administration major Christine Pena. “HEOP has also given me the opportunity to study abroad last fall, something that I never thought would be a possibility.”
Statistically, the HEOP program is one of the most successful programs in the nation, according to HEOP.org. HEOP students have a 6.5% graduation rate higher then the national average. Statistics also show that LIU Post’s HEOP students exceed beyond just grades but the program also has one of the highest graduation rates in the school.
HEOP students prior to 2011 received a financial package where most college expenses were covered, including housing by the means of applying for financial aid, grants and loans. “The program isn’t in jeopardy,” said Clyde, who has been the program director for 27 years. “It’ll force us to do things differently.” New HEOP students are now faced with making the decision of commuting to school or applying for a Parent Loan to cover the extra expenses for housing. Sophomore marketing major Victor Ramirez pays out of pocket to cover his extra expenses. “Cutbacks have affected me a lot. It was a struggle to even move in for the Fall 2012 semester since I did not have the money to start my payment plan,” he said.
Many funding programs support HEOP, but one of the programs that suffered a budget cut last year was Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). On the HEOP website, it states: “TAP generally provides up to $4000 in scholarship for students. Depending on what the tuition is for the institution, this could be a huge chunk of funding that a student can get.” Not only are future HEOP students affected, the budget cuts are affecting non-HEOP students also since TAP is accessible to any student who meets the requirements. Budget cuts affect any student who depends on financial assistance.
To prevent further budget cuts, the Director of HEOP at LIU Post organizes an annual trip to Albany every spring for HEOP students and students who depend on financial assistance for school, during which they meet with New York State legislators. Students meet and talk to legislators about how they benefit from having the program at LIU Post, and how they can profit from the program as they continue their education. Students are there to remind legislators that they need to support the funding for higher education. The students also talk to the legislators about TAP, Pell Grants, and financial aid. This year’s meeting will take place on February 5, 2013. All students are welcome to sign up for the trip at the HEOP office located in the lower level of Post Hall. For more information on the Higher Education Opportunity Program, please visit www.liu.edu/CWPost/Academics/Programs/Special/HEOP.aspx or call (516) 299-2397.