The union that represents faculty and staff at the State University of New York rolled out a campaign on Tuesday to push for boost in funding for the state's Tuition Assistance Program in the budget next year. 

The effort comes as state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are preparing for the coming budget season, which formally kicks off when the governor will introduce her budget proposal early next year. 

The union, United University Professions, is pointing to years of budgets that have kept funding essentially flat, which in turn has created a "gap" in tuition assistance — the difference between the cost of attending a SUNY college and what the program provides for students. 

“For more than a decade, SUNY campuses have been serving students and their communities through education, research, and health care programs, and doing so on a shoestring. New York has reached a crucial juncture in the public higher education landscape — invest in our campuses and students, or turn their backs on providing world-class education and support for students,” said UUP President Fred Kowal. “With a new administration in place, we are confident that SUNY can and will be restored to a place of opportunity for all. We urge our lawmakers to commit to fully filling the TAP Gap this year so SUNY can once again invest in providing a quality, accessible, affordable education for students.”

State lawmakers backing an increase in funding include Democrats Phil Steck and John McDonald in the state Assembly. 

"The discrepancy between the actual costs of tuition at SUNY schools and what a student is awarded is commonly known as the ‘Tap Gap,’ and we must find a way to defray the costs to students by addressing the gap” McDonald said. “College affordability is on the minds of many and we need to work toward an equitable solution. Now is the time to address the TAP Gap and I will continue to advocate on this issue as I have in the past."