Roughly 75,000 students will benefit from an expansion of the Tuition Assistance Program to include part-time course work at the state's public colleges and universities, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday said. 

Hochul in New York City touted the expansion of the program to include students who are earning 12 credits or less during a single semester, one of the largest expansions of the program since it was first created. 

"TAP has always been there to bridge a gap for what you might have in your family and help families that don't have very much," Hochul said. "We know TAP works, but since its inception it has been too limited."

The average grant under the program stands at $3,300 and more than 250,000 students were able to receive some assistance last year. The announcement comes as colleges and universities have struggled with enrollment since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic  and as the fall semester is getting underway. 

Hochul pointed to the impact of a college education on her own family in Western New York.  

"I want that opportunity, that possibility to be available to every single person who calls New York state home," she said. "That key to the middle class, that ticket out of poverty and that investment in a single person changed the outlook for my five siblings, my family."

The expansion was praised by higher education advocates and faculty organizations.  

"We thank Governor Hochul for including part-time TAP as part of her plan for a multi-year reinvestment in CUNY. We look forward to continued collaboration with the governor as we work to ensure the broadest possible access to high quality, public higher education," said James Davis, the president of the union that represents faculty at the City University of New York. "Part-time TAP will support enrollments and give our students, many of whom are parents and workers, the aid they need to pursue a college degree on a part-time basis."