President of Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities Testifies in Opposition of Executive Budget

CICU News Date: 

Albany, NY — All New York State students need and deserve access to the full range of tuition support offered by New York's taxpayers, and a new proposal to enhance support of a narrow band of institutions falls short of that long-standing ideal, the chief advocate for New York's independent colleges and universities said in testimony today.

“All New York’s students who fit the same financial profile should have access to the same amount of state-funded scholarship/grant aid,” said Mary Beth Labate, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU). "Independent colleges and universities should not be penalized for their progressive commitment to ensuring that all who are qualified for admission have the opportunity to enroll."

She delivered testimony before the New York State Senate Committees on Finance and Higher Education and the New York State Assembly Committees on Ways & Means and Higher Education. Her testimony focused on an Executive Budget proposal that would effectively limit students' access to private colleges.

In her testimony, Ms. Labate described the negative effect the Executive Budget would have on New York students.

“Any program that limits opportunities for the 300,000 New Yorkers for whom a private college or universities offers the best academic, social and career fit is not only incomplete but it could have devastating and I assume unintended consequences for private colleges that have long been the pillars of their communities.”

Her testimony highlighted independent colleges and universities' positive impact on both students and communities. She noted, for example, that nearly 80,500 students enrolled at CICU member schools qualify for Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) because their families make under $80,000. Furthermore, three-quarters of those students have family incomes below $40,000.

Her testimony also noted that:

  • CICU members provide 406,300 direct and indirect/induced jobs and these employees pay more than $2 billion in state taxes. Eight private, not-for-profit colleges and universities are among the top 10 employers in their respective regions, according to an analysis of the state’s leading private sector employers by the New York State Department of Labor.
  • Taxpayers provide $6 billion in aid to SUNY and CUNY – a subsidy Ms. Labate said is appropriate, given those colleges and universities' status as public institutions. This translates into $8,830 per student, a cost that will grow with “free” tuition. Moreover, she noted that likely increases in demand at SUNY and CUNY campuses would increase pressure on taxpayers to provide additional operating and capital dollars. Those costs, her testimony noted, were not factored into the Executive Budget proposal.
  • Colleges and universities in the Independent Sector work to ensure that all New Yorkers have the choice of and access to the college or university that is the best fit for them. Furthermore, they work hard to help their students complete their degrees.


Please click here to access the full testimony.

About The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York

Founded in 1956, The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) represents more than 100 private, not-for-profit colleges and universities located here in New York State. Together, Independent Sector campuses educate nearly 500,000 students and are responsible for more than 400,000 jobs statewide.