Mary Beth Labate Testifies During Joint Budget Hearing on Higher Education

News Date: 1/29/2019

CICU President Mary Beth Labate testified in favor of increased funding for student aid and opportunity programs during the Joint Budget Hearing on Higher Education on Jan. 28, 2019. Below are excerpts from her testimony. Click here to read her full testimony


A college degree is the embodiment of the audacious belief that today’s hard work and sacrifice will pay off tomorrow. New York’s private, not-for-profit colleges and universities are in the business of helping our students prepare for a better tomorrow.

For as long as any of us have been New Yorkers, and long before that, our state has believed in, and supported, the missions of her 100+ private, not-for-profit colleges and universities.

 Private colleges are an integral part of New York’s higher education ecosystem. It is only with the public and private sectors working together that New York can educate 1.2 million students each year. And it is only through equitable state support that this delicately balanced landscape can continue to run smoothly and support the needs of students, employers and communities across the state.

Making achievable the college dreams of all students is at the heart of the mission of every private college in New York. That is why Independent Sector colleges and universities contribute $5.7 billion from their own resources every year for student aid, an amount that has more than doubled over the past decade. That is also why my predecessors and I have returned to you, the leaders of our state Legislature, year after year, to advocate for more funding for our students and our private college campuses.

The aid New York provides to private, not-for-profit colleges and universities and their students is a shining example of public-private partnership. When the state invests in our campuses and our students, everyone wins. Students win because they have the resources to pursue their higher education at the college that best meets their needs. Colleges win because they can leverage state support to keep college costs down for all students and provide the supports students need to get to graduation. Communities win because they can continue to rely on their private college to create jobs and generate economic activity. And, the state wins, by leveraging the private sector to educate more students, conduct more groundbreaking R&D, and draw in more talent than the public sector could do alone. The state also wins because its investment in private colleges helps ensure that New York continues to have an educated workforce for the economy of tomorrow.

In today’s economy, and more importantly in tomorrow’s, a college degree is the key to a career in high-demand fields like STEM, nursing, and teaching. A well-educated, creative and flexible workforce is also the key to attracting new businesses to New York, retaining existing businesses and encouraging investment.

Our colleagues in New York’s public higher education systems cannot do it alone. Maintaining balance in New York’s higher education system is integral to our state’s future economic viability and requires investment in both the public and private sectors.