Hayes v. City University of New York, 77 Civ. 5476 (ADS)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
Citation503 F. Supp. 946
Docket Number79 Civ. 2433 (ADS) and 80 Civ. 2613 (ADS).,No. 77 Civ. 5476 (ADS),77 Civ. 5476 (ADS)
PartiesMs. Barbara HAYES, Ms. Cerise Jones, Ms. Marion Brown, Ms. Regina Campbell, on behalf of themselves and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, a body corporate; Robert J. Kibbee, Chancellor of the City University of New York; Leo A. Corbie, University Dean for Special Programs; Human Resource Administration of the City of New York; Stanley Brezenoff, Commissioner of the Human Resources Administration; Howard Miller, Jr., Budget Director of the State of New York; Arthur N. Gordon, Acting Director of the New York City Audit Bureau; New York State Department of Social Services; Barbara B. Blum, Commissioner of New York State Department of Social Services, Defendants. Ana VILLANUEVA, on her own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. Patricia Roberts HARRIS, as Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services; Barbara Blum, as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services; and Stanley Brezenoff, as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Social Services, Defendants. Carmen WARREN and Michelle Warren, Plaintiffs, v. Stanley BREZENOFF, Individually and as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Social Services; Barbara Blum, Individually and as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services; Patricia Roberts Harris, Individually and as Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services; Ernest L. Boyer, Individually and as Commissioner of the Office of Education; and Shirley Hufstedler, Individually and as Secretary of the Department of Education, Defendants.
Decision Date14 January 1981

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George E. Hairston, N.A.A.C.P., New York City, for plaintiffs, Barbara Hayes, Cerise Jones, Marion Brown, Regina Campbell.

John C. Gray, Jr., Brooklyn Legal Services Corp. B, Brooklyn, N.Y., for plaintiff, Ana Villanueva by Gretchen L. Sprague, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Janet M. Calvo, Washington Square Legal Services, Inc., New York City, for plaintiffs, Carmen Warren & Michelle Warren.

John S. Martin, Jr., U. S. Atty., S. D. New York, New York City, for the Federal defendants by Richard Papper, Asst. U. S. Atty., New York City.

Robert Abrams, Atty. Gen. of the State of New York, New York City, for the State defendants by Robert A. Forte, Asst. Atty. Gen., New York City.

Allen G. Schwartz, Corp. Counsel, City of New York, New York City, for the City defendants by Judith A. Levitt, Asst. Corp. Counsel, New York City.

Laura Blank, Bd. of Higher Ed., New York City, for defendant City University of New York.

SOFAER, District Judge:

These consolidated cases arise out of a complex array of statutes and regulations that regulate the level at which students on welfare, or from families on welfare, are to be supported by public funds. The New York State Department of Social Services ("DSS") contends that some welfare students and their families receive more than they need under relevant welfare standards. DSS therefore seeks to reduce the support given such students by the State of New York to the level of need established by DSS directives. Plaintiffs in these cases contend, however, that welfare students' benefits do not exceed their need, as defined by controlling educational standards. Plaintiffs request invalidation of DSS's regulations and practices to the extent that DSS seeks to reduce the level at which welfare students are supported. They are joined in their contentions by the former Department of Health, Education and Welfare ("HEW"), now known as the Department of Health and Human Services.

The issues posed in these cases are far more difficult to relate and comprehend than to resolve. The federal government's decision to support needy students has led to that awesome proliferation of programs, statutes, and regulations that we have come to expect when our nation tackles a social objective. New York's decision to assist needy students has added more programs and greater complexity. Describing these programs and rules is cumbersome, and comprehending their operation is difficult.

Nevertheless, the essence of this dispute can be succinctly stated and readily understood. If left to operate without interference, the various federal and state educational programs available to needy students in New York would treat all such students identically, irrespective of whether they are supported by welfare. Federal and state educational programs treat all students-both welfare and non-welfare-alike by establishing a standard of need that includes both educational and some living costs, and by allocating grants and loans in accordance with that standard. One consequence of this equality of treatment is that federal and state educational grants place students on welfare in a somewhat more favorable position than welfare recipients who are not students. The DSS opposes this situation. It seeks here, in a variety of ways, to reduce its own allocations to welfare students or their families so that they are supported at a level no higher than that of non-student recipients-even if the consequence is to place welfare students at a disadvantage relative to non-welfare students.

The Department's position must be rejected. Congress has clearly indicated it intention, first, that students be treated alike, whether or not on welfare, and, second, that the level of need for students be established by educational authorities, whose goal is to help students succeed, rather than by welfare authorities, who may tend to seek to support at the subsistence level as many recipients as possible. See Memorandum of Law in Support of State Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment at 20, 22.

Contrary to DSS's assertions, invalidation of its policy will not result in welfare students receiving more than they "need." Federal law provides ample means for preventing students from obtaining more support than educational authorities determine they need to succeed as students. What this decision does mean is that welfare students must be allowed to keep those funds determined by educational authorities to be educationally necessary; these students may not be deprived of any part of that support by welfare authorities concerned primarily with what they need to subsist as recipients.

Congress, in short, has evidenced a desire to provide extra support to all needy students, including those on welfare, in the belief that the extra margin will enable many such students to break the cycle of poverty and despair, thereby saving public funds in the long run. See generally Senate Report No. 673, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., reprinted in 1965 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad. News, pp. 4027, 4053-62. State welfare officials may not interfere with this important national policy.

I. Federal and State Educational Assistance Programs

Congress has developed a multifaceted scheme of programs to assist financially needy students in obtaining post-secondary educations. See Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Pub.L. 89-329, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1070-1089. It has vested overall responsibility for the various aid programs in the Commissioner (now the Secretary) of Education, but the individual educational institutions play the critical role in the federal educational assistance system. Acting pursuant to federal regulations, each participating institution administers the federal programs for its students by constructing individual aid packages. To participate in the federal programs, the institution must agree to comply with governing statutes and regulations.

The financial aid package is built upon the so-called Basic Grant. Basic Educational Opportunity Grant program ("BEOG"), 20 U.S.C. § 1070a; 45 C.F.R. Part 190 (1979). Determining the amount of that grant entails two steps. First, the student applies for aid to the Commissioner of Education. The Commissioner calculates the applicant's expected family contribution1 and issues a student eligibility report, which specifies the proportion of the maximum BEOG award that the applicant may receive. 45 C.F.R. §§ 190.11-190.16 (1979). The applicant then submits the student eligibility report to the financial aid office at the student's school for calculation of the actual grant.2Id. §§ 190.61-190.67. That office determines the student's cost of attendance pursuant to a formula promulgated by the Commissioner having three elements: tuition and fees, room and board, and a $400 allowance for books, supplies, and miscellaneous expenses. Id. §§ 190.51-190.55. The financial aid office then awards a grant of whichever of the following amounts is smallest: the difference between $1800 and the expected family contribution; 50 percent of the cost of attendance; or the difference between the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution. Id. §§ 190.62-190.63. The grant may never exceed one-half of the student's financial need, with an absolute maximum of $1800.

If the Basic Grant fails to satisfy the student's educational costs, the financial aid office completes the student's package with additional federal and state grants and loans. Among the federal programs are the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program ("SEOG"), 20 U.S.C. § 1070b; 45 C.F.R. Part 176 (1979), the Guaranteed Student Loan Program ("GSLP"), 20 U.S.C. § 1071; 45 C.F.R. Part 177 (1979), the National Direct Student Loan program ("NDSL"), 20 U.S.C. § 1087aa; 45 C.F.R. Part 174 (1979), and the College Work Study program ("CWS"), 42 U.S.C. § 2751; 45 C.F.R. Part 175, Subpart A (1979). The state programs include the Tuition Assistance Program ("TAP"), the Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge program ("SEEK"), and the College Discovery program ("CD").

Calculating need for purposes of these federal and state...

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