242017Jan

During Budget Testimony, New York Colleges Seek to Expand Accessibility and Financial Assistance for Students

Association of Proprietary College Members Help Keep Debt Down, Student Achievement High, and Employment Opportunities the Priority.

The Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC) today announced its Legislative Agenda for 2017. The release of the agenda coincided with the Legislature’s Joint Budget Hearing on Higher Education, where APC President and CEO Donna Gurnett presented testimony.

“APC member colleges are committed to keeping college affordable and reducing loan debt,” said Gurnett. “In the 2015-2016 academic year, the average tuition increase at APC member college was less than a one percent increase over the prior year, well within the governor’s recent request to cap tuition.”

According to Gurnett, keeping costs low is possible because APC member college identify operating efficiencies that will not negatively impact faculty development or student support systems. For example, using e-textbooks or textbook rentals for course material is much more cost effective than requiring students to purchase textbooks.

“Graduation is ultimately the key to success for our students,” said Gurnett. “Graduation helps ensure students are able to find good jobs and repay their student loans.”

Recent studies have shown that student loan borrowers who struggle the most to repay their loans are often non-completers. In fact, student borrowers who do not complete a degree default on their student loans at a rate of almost three times higher than borrowers who earned a degree.[1]

“APC member colleges offer their students exceptional support throughout their college experience,” said Gurnett. “Common themes include individual attention, small class room sizes (average student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1), counseling and financial literacy training and career development. This attention and support translates into more students successfully graduating on time with lower student debt overall.”

APC’s legislative agenda includes:

Expanding Eligibility to the Proposed Excelsior Scholarship Program

The governor’s proposed Excelsior Scholarship Program seeks to create affordable opportunities for many students in New York. However, as currently proposed, its limited scope will leave countless students behind. Students attending APC member colleges who seek to better their futures by attending classes while working full-time, those pursuing a degree after starting a family, and students looking to improve their skills to compete in today’s job market deserve the same opportunity to reduce their student loan debt as students attending state-funded colleges.

Increase the Maximum TAP Award to $6,500

Since its creation in 1974, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) has enabled more than five million New Yorkers to go to college. In 2014, the state showed its continued support of the program by increasing the maximum TAP award for the first time in more than a decade. We must build on this increase and raise the maximum TAP award to $6,500 annually.

Expand the TAP Income Threshold to $100,000

Expanding the maximum income threshold for TAP recipients from $80,000 to $100,000 would open to door to a college degree for many students from middle class families. The maximum income threshold has not been adjusted in more than 17 years.

 Reinstate TAP for Graduate Students

Occupations requiring master’s degrees are growing faster than those that do not. The state must consider making TAP funding available for students enrolled in graduate level programs. Realizing this need, APC member colleges, such as Monroe College and LIM College, have invested in master’s level programs to meet the demands of employers.

“Our colleges strive to help employers build their futures by preparing qualified graduates who then make an immediate contribution in the workplace,” said Gurnett. “At present, more employers are seeking candidates with advanced degrees. Low-income students would benefit greatly from the assistance Graduate TAP would offer.

“We are proud of our students and our long-standing record of achievement and we look forward to working with New York policymakers to ensure all students are granted the opportunity to succeed,” Gurnett said.

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The Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC) represents 14 fully accredited, degree granting colleges operating on 25 college campuses in New York State offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs. Our colleges are located across the state from Buffalo, to Long Island, Jamestown to Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany and the entire NYC metropolitan area. There are more than 50,000 students enrolled in proprietary colleges throughout New York State and APC member colleges serve more than 35,000 of these students.

Please visit www.apc-colleges.org and follow us on Twitter @APCColleges and Facebook @ APCColleges .

[1] US Department of Education Fact Sheet: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-focusing-higher-education-student-success