The Business Council of New York State, Inc. strongly supports institutions of higher education that are preparing the workforce for well-paying careers. As such, it opposes S.5562-A (Stavisky) / A.8119-A (Hyndman) which would force proprietary colleges to pay a fee into a tuition reimbursement account and prepares for the closure of proprietary colleges.
This bill is just one of several that make it clear the State is intent on shutting down the proprietary college sector in New York, which would put large numbers of people out of work and reduce education and workforce training opportunities for students.
The proprietary college sector in New York has been working with business and industry on education, training and skill-development for over a hundred years. To target a group of colleges based on how they were founded demonstrates the misunderstanding and stigma of the structure of proprietary colleges. Many of these institutions in New York were founded over a hundred years ago and are family-owned education institutions. As such, they are privately held and never pursued a non-profit status, mostly because it is a long and complex process. If bill goes into effect, many proprietary colleges across the state will seek a non-profit status in order to survive.
Because of their for-profit status, they are taxpayers and contribute to state and local revenues. With the State’s concern about revenue and municipalities on already tight budgets, transitioning a whole sector of institutions across the state from for-profit taxpayers to non-profit, tax-exempt organizations would have an adverse economic impact on state, local, and school budgets statewide.
All institutions of higher education in New York are subject to the New York State Education Department’s (SED) rigorous standards for accreditation (some of the highest in the country) which all the State’s for-, non-profit, and public colleges and universities are governed by. All the State’s institutions of higher education should be subject to the same regulations and governing laws.
If SED has concerns about the quality and standards of the programs at proprietary colleges, or any accredited institution, there are ways to address and remedy them within the department.
New York State has some of the finest institutions of higher education in the country and the world. SUNY, CUNY, for-, and non-profit colleges all serve New York residents in career and civic preparation, and all have a role in New York’s higher education landscape. Reducing the education options for students is a detriment to students who have many personal and familial considerations when making post-secondary education choices.
If the State’s concern is truly about potential closure of private colleges and universities, it would consider the effect of the closure of private, non-profit institutions as well. It should be noted that the most recent college in New York to announce its closing is a private, non-profit college, the College of New Rochelle.
The State spends millions of dollars to support the public college system, with private for- and non-profit institutions left to manage New York’s complex regulatory framework and competition with public institutions with significant State resources, all while attempting to focus on student success.
To treat any one of these institutions differently from the others demonstrates a clear bias with no evidence for such action being warranted. The for-profit sector in New York State which, on average, has lower student loan debt for graduates and higher degree completion rates1 is focused on student success as much as any other institution of higher education in the State.
These schools know that student success means addressing all student needs, and proprietary colleges across the state are responding by opening food pantries and childcare centers on their campuses.
From an industry standpoint, there is an unrelenting demand for “middle skilled” employees, those who have some post-secondary education but not a bachelor’s degree. This includes certificate programs and associate degrees. Across the state, many of these SED-accredited proprietary schools are successfully training an in-demand workforce vital to the economy. These schools have strong industry partnerships, and their primary challenge is that they cannot get enough students to fill the needs of local employers. Threatening these programs will be detrimental to the workforce and industry, especially in the most high-demand STEM careers. Healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and IT all have a high demand for middle skilled employees and rely heavily on certificate and associate degree programs.
Laws that disproportionately effect one sector of higher education over another are unnecessary and undermine SED’s oversight of all institutions of higher education. The State’s employers need more higher education partners to train and recruit skilled talent, and partner with all institutions of higher education to meet their workforce needs. As such, The Business Council strongly opposes S.5562-A (Stavisky) / A.8119-A (Hyndman), which would force proprietary colleges to pay a fee into a tuition reimbursement account and prepares for the closure of proprietary colleges.
1 The average student loan debt for the Association of Proprietary Colleges is $22,357, compared to the statewide average of $30,931 [Source: US Department of Education, College Scorecard (https://collegescorecard.ed.gov)]. On-time (2-year) associate degree graduation rates in New York for Proprietary colleges: 26.8%; CUNY: 4.8%; SUNY, 13.1% [Source: New York State Education Department, 2016 Data].