Statement From CICU President Lola W. Brabham On President Biden's Loan Forgiveness Executive Order

News Date: 8/29/2022

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 26, 2022) – The following is a statement from Lola W. Brabham, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York (“CICU”) in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order on student loan forgiveness.

“On behalf of The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU), which represents more than 100 private, not-for-profit colleges and universities across New York, and more than 460,000 students, I applaud President Biden’s announcement regarding college loan forgiveness.

This is as an important first step. But, in addition to helping students who have already incurred debt, Congress needs to consider ways to help current and future students minimize the debt they take on going forward.

The most effective way to reduce student debt is to increase student aid. President Biden proposed doubling the maximum Pell Grants, a long overdue investment that would help deserving students and their families.

Two-thirds of students at CICU member colleges are from families that earn less than $125,000 annually, which means that almost 90 percent of students attending CICU’s member institutions receive financial aid. Those private, not-for-profit colleges and universities provide $6.9 billion in financial aid to their students. This amounts to 89% of the aid their students receive. The federal government provides an additional 7% while New York State provides the remaining 4% of the financial aid these students receive.

The Independent Sector has the lowest student loan default rate in the state (4.4% compared to 9.7% at SUNY, 7.8% at CUNY, and 14.3% at for-profits) and the highest graduation rate (74% after six years; 62% at four years).

Students who do not complete their education are at greater risk of default and compounding debt loads. Without a degree it’s harder to enter the workforce and earn a competitive salary. That is why private colleges in New York are focused on maintaining and increasing their high graduation rates and supporting all students to the completion of their degree.

We applaud President Biden for his leadership and we call upon Congress to join him in investing in our nation’s future.”

For more about CICU, its member institutions, and its mission, visit