National Coalition Announced for the Education of Welfare Recipients

Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds of The City University of New York announced today that dozens of college and university chancellors and presidents nationwide have joined a new National Coalition in support of current and prospective students who are public assistance recipients working to gain college credentials, leave the welfare rolls permanently and become productive taxpayers. The National Coalition for the Education of Welfare Recipients, which is still in formation, is composed of 63 leaders in higher education in 18 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, DC, many of whose institutions enroll these students.

“Higher education has proven to be a viable and expedient route to moving individuals and families towards productive employment and more enriched lives,” said Chancellor Reynolds. “Many thousands of qualified welfare recipients are already enrolled in colleges and universities and others would enroll if they were supported in their efforts to complete an academic program.”

The federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which was enacted into law in August, severely limits college study as an opportunity path for many individuals wishing to pursue educational advancement. Among the policy changes the Coalition is concerned with are:

  • Defining the vocational education provisions to include higher education, and removal of the 12- month limitation on education and training in the federal law to permit all welfare recipients who qualify to pursue college degrees.
  • Acceptance in reform legislation of colleges and university campuses and nearby sites as qualified locations for students to carry out work requirements.
  • Relief from the two-year and work-limiting provisions for students making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Elimination of provisions that disqualify recipients who are legal immigrants.

The Coalition will engage in presentations and discussions at relevant national, state and local meetings. Invitations to speak have been accepted for the meeting of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in March, and of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) in April, both in Washington, DC. Members will also deliver testimony before appropriate committees and subcommittees of the U.S. Congress and state legislatures, draft legislative language as appropriate, and engage in letter-writing campaigns and visits to policymakers.

Members are also sharing and disseminating model programs, initiatives and research for implementation at national, state and local levels. For example, the State of Massachusetts allows student welfare recipients to work for benefits in the federal College Work/Study program.

The educators’ concern grew out of limitations in both local and national welfare reform laws that effectively restrict or exclude people on public assistance from gaining certificates, diplomas or degrees that are their passport to better-paying jobs with a future. At CUNY, nearly 20,000 students currently receive public assistance, down from 27,000 just two years earlier, before New York City imposed workfare requirements that were often in conflict with students’ class schedules and course requirements.

A current list of members of the National Coalition for the Education of Welfare Recipients is attached.

The City University of New York, the nation’s leading urban university, comprises 10 senior colleges, six community colleges, one technical college, a graduate school, a law school, a medical school and an affiliated school of medicine. Nearly 205,000 degree-credit students and 150,000 adult and continuing education students are enrolled throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York. More information is available on the CUNY Website (

National Coalition for the Education of Welfare Recipients

President William H. Harris
Alabama State University

President Joel Read
Alverno College

President Augusta Souza Kappner
Bank Street College of Education

President Sammie Potts
Barber-Scotia College

President David H. Swinton
Benedict College

President Nathanael Pollard Jr.
Bowie State University

President Eileen T. Farley
Bristol Community College

Chancellor Thomas J. Nussbaum
California Community Colleges

President Robert C. Detweiler
California State University at Dominguez Hills

Chancellor Barry Munitz
California State University at Long Beach

President James M. Rosser
California State University at Los Angeles

President Rafael L. Cortada
Central Ohio Technical College
Dean & Director,
The Ohio State University at Newark

Interim Chancellor Georgia E. Lesh-Laurie
University of Colorado at Denver

President Calvin W. Burnett
Coppin State College

President Samuel DuBois Cook
Dillard University

Acting President Julius Nimmons
University of the District of Columbia

President Rutherford H. Adkins
Fisk University

Chancellor Gerald L. Bepko
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

President H. Patrick Swygert
Howard University

President Carlos Hernandez
Jersey City State College

President Wesley Cornelious McClure
Lane College

S. Gaylen Bradley
Vice President, Academic Affairs
University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute

Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg
University of Maryland System

President Regina S. Peruggi
Marymount Manhattan College

Chancellor Sherry H. Penney
University of Massachusetts, Boston

President Susan A. Cole
Metropolitan State University

President Earl S. Richardson
Morgan State University

President Richard Freeland
Northeastern University

President Patricia O. Ewers
Pace University

President Lee Monroe
Paul Quinn College

President Judith Ramaley
Portland State University

President Robert A. Scott
Ramapo College of New Jersey

President Bernard W. Franklin
Saint Augustine’s College

President Thomas Law
St. Paul’s College

President Robert A. Corrigan
San Francisco State University

President John E. Van de Wetering
SUNY Brockport

President L. Eudora Pettigrew
SUNY Old Westbury

Kenneth H. Ashworth
Commissioner of Higher Education
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

President James M. Douglas
Texas Southern University

President Carol D. Surles
Texas Woman’s University

President Hoke L. Smith
Towson State University

President Orville Kean
University of the Virgin Islands

President Kalyan K. Ghosh
Worcester State College

Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds
City University of New York

President Matthew Goldstein
Baruch College, CUNY

President Antonio Perez
Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

President Vernon E. Lattin
Brooklyn College, CUNY

President Carolyn Williams
Bronx Community College, CUNY

President Yolanda T. Moses
City College, CUNY

President Frances Degen Horowitz
CUNY Graduate School and University Center

Dean Kristin Booth Glen
CUNY School of Law

President Marlene Springer
College of Staten Island, CUNY

President Isaura Santiago Santiago
Hostos Community College, CUNY

President David A. Caputo
Hunter College, CUNY

President Gerald W. Lynch
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

President Leon Goldstein
Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

President Raymond C. Bowen
LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

President Ricardo R. Fernandez
Lehman College, CUNY

President Edison O. Jackson
Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Acting President Emilie A. Cozzi
New York City Technical College, CUNY

President Allen Lee Sessoms
Queens College, CUNY

President Kurt R. Schmeller
Queensborough Community College, CUNY

President Charles C. Kidd
York College, CUNY