History of Independent Higher Education in New York State

New York State has a unique and complementary system of higher education. With the Independent Sector, the State University (SUNY), and the City University (CUNY) systems focusing on different core strengths, the Empire State's colleges and universities serve nearly 1.2 million students annually. Since the early days of the nation, our state and federal governments have recognized the importance of supporting both independent and public colleges and the students they serve. Below is a timeline of selected significant developments:

1754: New York State's first college, King's College, now Columbia University, founded.

1784: The State's early Constitution creates The University of the State of New York as an integrated, comprehensive system of higher education. (All institutions within that "University" were private.)

1862: Under the Morrill Act, New York State chooses Cornell University as its Land Grant institution, awarding one student from each Assembly district a full-tuition scholarship. (Only one other state, Massachusetts, has an independent Land Grant institution, MIT.)

1948: The Temporary Commission on the Need for a State University recommends: (1) creation of the State University of New York (SUNY); (2) expanding the City College of New York to create CUNY; (3) increasing scholarships to broaden access to the Independent Sector.

1956: Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities founded.

1968: The Select Committee on the Future of Private and Independent Higher Education in New York State (Bundy Commission) recommends direct aid to independent colleges based on the number and level of degrees each confers annually. Direct Institutional ("Bundy") Aid program conceived.

1969: Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) initiated.

1974: Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) created; $1,500 maximum grant.

1986: Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP) begun.

1988: Liberty Partnerships Programs established.

2000: TAP maximum award increased to $5,000 and TAP minimum award increased to $500.

2005: Higher Education Capital Matching Grants Program approved granting $150 million in state capital support for independent colleges and universities.

2005: Nursing Faculty Scholarship and Loan Forgiveness Program created.

2006: Part-Time Tuition Assistance Program first offered to students at independent colleges.

2007: State Aid Awards for High Needs Nursing Programs at Independent Colleges and Universities established.

2009: New York Higher Education Loan Program (NYHELP's) established.

2014: TAP maximum award increased to $5,165.

2015: Foster Youth Success Initiative enacted in State Budget.

2017: The Enhanced Tuition Award Program was enacted in the State Budget

2018: The Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Scholarship was expanded to include students who attend CICU member campuses. 

2019: The DREAM Act was enacted in the State Budget. 

2019: The We Teach NY Grant program was created in the State Budget.