New York State Legislature Passes Critical Legislation Expanding Financial Aid and Increasing Higher Education Access for New Yorkers

News Date: 6/21/2017

Albany, NY (June 21, 2017) — The State Legislature has approved three pieces of legislation that will give New York resident students greater access to financial aid and more choices as they pursue their studies in critical fields. Two pieces of legislation will allow students to use scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) or Master’s in Education degrees at New York’s many private, and not-for-profit colleges and universities. The third piece of legislation exempts teachers who hold graduate degrees from the requirement they take the GRE if they wish to return to school for another certificate.

“On behalf of New York’s private, not-for-profit college and universities, I applaud the Legislature’s leadership on making college accessible for all New York students,” said Mary Beth Labate, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU).

“We look forward to working with the Governor to see these bills signed into law. These bills are important steps toward the goal of providing greater access, diversity and choice to New Yorkers, a goal that we share with the Governor,” Labate said. “The sponsors of these important pieces of legislation deserve kudos for their commitment to increasing access to higher education. I applaud Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle and Assemblymembers Deborah J. Glick and Patricia Fahy as well as the numerous co-sponsors on each bill, for their sponsorship of this legislation.”

Senate Higher Education Chair Kenneth P. LaValle (S.D. 1) said: “As the sponsor of these bills, I am very pleased to know they have support on both sides of the aisle and have passed both houses with ease. The aim of these pieces of legislation is to promote affordability and access to New York’s robust higher education landscape. Private colleges and universities across the state are leaders in educating and preparing today’s youth for long and rewarding careers. It is important that we continue to nurture the partnership between both public and private institutions in their mission to make New York the premier place to receive an undergraduate or graduate degree. By removing financial obstacles and simplifying application processes, we continue to make higher education a possibility for students everywhere.”

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle (A.D. 136) said: “New York is home to some of the top private and public institutions of higher learning in the nation. We must ensure that students have the tools and resources they need to take advantage of these opportunities. I am proud to sponsor legislation and advance policies that help make college more accessible so that students can pursue their passions and receive the quality education they deserve.”

Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick (A.D. 66) said: “It is imperative that New York support teachers and school leaders who wish to further their educations for the benefit of their students. That is why I was proud to sponsor legislation removing the onerous requirement that educators who already hold graduate-level degrees and are returning to school for additional certification re-take the GRE. This legislation will open the door for more educators to pursue additional certifications at New York’s fine public and private higher education institutions, improving their educations and the educations they provide to New York’s students.”

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy (A.D. 109) said: “New York’s hardworking teachers deserve the option to use scholarship funds to pursue their Masters-in-Education degrees at public or private institutions. I am proud to have sponsored legislation that broadens choice for teachers pursuing Master’s degrees and shows teachers that New York State is committed to their continued excellence. It is important for New York to use all of its world-class institutions of higher learning in order to ensure the state is training and maintaining strong and capable teachers.”

Legislation expanding the Masters-in-Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship program (A.5910/S.2482) and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program (A.1808/S.2466) will allow New York students to use scholarships to pursue graduate degrees in education or STEM undergraduate degrees at private, not-for-profit colleges and universities.

Additionally, under the provisions of a third bill, (A.3676/S.2487), certified teachers and school leaders who already hold a graduate degree and wish to return to school to pursue another certification are exempt from taking the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) standardized test. This legislation will enable more working teachers to pursue graduate-level degrees to improve their own educations and, by extension, provide better educations for their students.

“New York’s future success depends upon its ability to educate young people. Expanding access to teacher education and providing more scholarships for STEM-related degrees paves the way for New York’s continued success in today’s increasingly competitive economy. These bills are important steps toward a truly equitable higher education ecosystem in New York in which every student can choose to pursue their education at the college or university that best meets their needs,” Labate said. “With summer 2017 deadlines for applying for this year’s round of STEM and Masters-in-Education scholarships, we urge Governor Cuomo to act swiftly to sign these bills into law so all eligible students can access the programs,” she added.


About The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York

Founded in 1956, The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) in New York represents the chief executives of New York's 100+ independent (private, not-for-profit) colleges and universities on issues of public policy. Member colleges compose the largest private sector of higher education in the world and confer most of the bachelor’s degrees (51%), master’s degrees (73%), and doctoral and first-professional degrees (79%) earned in New York state.