Facts About New York State’s Independent Colleges and Universities

As of Winter 2016-17

Developing Talent

  • The Independent Sector has experienced a 23 percent increase in total enrollment since 1994 (400,685 in 1994 to 491,628 in 2015, a gain of 90,943 students).  Enrollment increased by 11 percent between fall 2003 and fall 2015 (a gain of 47,713 students).  In recent years, growth has been slower, but steady, with a gain of more than 6,000 students since 2010.[1]
  • Considering total enrollment among New York State’s higher education sectors in fall 2015, the Independent Sector enrolls the largest percentage of students in the state: 39 percent, or 491,628 of the 1,258,959 degree/certificate-seeking college students.[2] 
  • Enrollment at four-year/graduate institutions in the Independent Sector was 488,275 in fall 2015, which represents a 53 percent share of enrollment at four-year/graduate institutions in New York State.  In the same year, four-year/graduate institution enrollment at SUNY and CUNY was 237,565 (26 percent) and 175,204 (19 percent), respectively.[3]
  • New York State’s Independent Sector is the largest in the country.[4]
  • Sixty percent of private, not-for-profit colleges and universities in New York State enroll fewer than 2,000 students.[5]
  • Considering the Independent Sector’s undergraduate population in fall 2015:
    • 21 percent are age twenty-five or older
    • 57 percent are female
    • 18 percent attend classes part-time[6]

Degree Production

  • In 2014-15, the Independent Sector awarded 51 percent of bachelor’s, 72 percent of master’s, and 79 percent of doctoral and professional degrees earned in New York State.  In addition, the Independent Sector awarded 59 percent of bachelor’s and graduate degrees combined (bachelor’s and above), and 73 percent of all graduate degrees (master’s and above).[7]
  • In New York State, 39 percent of students aged 25 and above who earn a bachelor's degree, do so in the Independent Sector.[8]
  • The Independent Sector led degree completion with a 70.1 percent six-year graduation rate in 2015 (up from 59.7 percent in 2000).[9]
  • The Independent Sector awards 55 percent of the nursing degrees awarded in New York State, which includes…
    • 67 percent of bachelor’s degrees in nursing
    • 66 percent of graduate degrees in nursing[10]
  • 72 Independent Sector campuses award 60 percent of the state’s bachelor’s and graduate degrees in education[11]
  • The Independent Sector outpaces other sectors in the production of degrees in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
    • In 2014-15, the Independent Sector awarded 56 percent of the bachelor’s degrees, and 71 percent of graduate degrees earned in STEM fields in New York State, which includes…
  • 56 percent of bachelor’s and 73 percent of graduate degrees awarded in biological and biomedical sciences
  • 45 percent of bachelor’s and 66 percent of graduate degrees awarded in physical sciences and science technologies
  • 52 percent of bachelor’s and 68 percent of graduate degrees awarded in computer and information sciences
  • 66 percent of bachelor’s and 73 percent of graduate degrees awarded in engineering and engineering technologies
  • 46 percent of bachelor’s and 77 percent of graduate degrees awarded in mathematics and statistics[12]

Driving Economic Impact

  • In 2015, total statewide economic impact of New York’s Independent Sector of higher education was $79.6 billion, which represents a 7 percent increase over 2013.[13]
  • Total employment in 2015 was 406,300, which includes 179,700 institution jobs, 16,600 construction jobs, and 210,000 indirect/induced jobs.[14]
    • Total employment has increased by 3 percent since 2013.[15]
  • Four Independent Sector institutions rank among the top 15 employers in New York State (Columbia University, Cornell University/Weill Medical College, New York University/NYU Langone Medical Center, and University of Rochester/UR Medicine).[16]
  • Total payroll, which includes institutional, construction, and indirect/induced employment, was $28.1 billion in 2015.[17]

Empowering Students

  • The Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) helps more than 370,000 students pay their tuition at a New York State college or university.  In 2014-15, students at independent colleges and universities received $220 million in TAP funds.[18]
    • Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of Independent Sector TAP recipients have incomes below $40,000; more than half (51 percent) earn less than $20,000.[19]
  • In 2015-16, nearly 113,000 students at New York State’s Independent Sector institutions received Pell Grants, totaling $474 million, which is approximately 25 percent of the Pell dollars awarded in New York State; more than 47,000 Independent Sector students received Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, totaling $28 million, which represents 54 percent of the FSEOG dollars awarded in New York State.[20]
  • Independent Sector institutions provide $5.1 billion in institutionally funded financial aid, which is more than three times the amount distributed in 2000-01 ($1.6 billion).[21]

Educating Students of Color

  • In fall 2015, 40 percent of Black undergraduate students and 36 percent of Hispanic undergraduate students in New York State enrolled at four-year independent colleges and universities.[22]
  • In fall 2015, 67 percent of Black graduate students and 58 percent of Hispanic graduate students in New York State enrolled at independent colleges and universities.[23]
  • In New York State, 48 percent of Black students and 47 percent of Hispanic students received their bachelor’s and graduate degrees from Independent Sector colleges and universities.[24]
  • The Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) brings the promise of a college education to a traditionally underserved population: 66 percent of HEOP students are Black or Hispanic.[25]

Committed to Discovery

  • New York State ranks second among the states, with total public and private higher education R&D expenditures of $5.6 billion.[26]
  • Independent colleges and universities account for 74 percent of R&D spending among higher education institutions in New York State.[27]
  • R&D spending at Independent Sector institutions increased by 55 percent between 2005 and 2014 and by 34 percent between 2009 and 2014.[28]
  • In 2015, the Independent Sector produced 76 start-up companies, filed 669 new patent applications, and received 440 U.S. patents.[29]

Notable Distinctions

  • The Independent Sector is well represented in U.S. News and World Report college rankings: seven institutions are listed in the top 50 Liberal Arts Colleges; six are listed in the top 50 Medical Schools; five are listed in the top 50 Best National Universities, and five are listed in the top 50 Engineering Schools. 
    • In addition, three of the top 20 business schools; three of the top 20 law schools; and three of the top 50 global universities are part of New York State’s Independent Sector.[30]
  • In 2015, 292 National Merit Scholars entered New York State’s Independent Sector colleges and universities.[31]
  • The Independent Sector includes 67 four-year colleges and universities that are NCAA members.[32]



[1] New York State Education Department (NYSED)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), based on total enrollment in fall 2015

[5] NYSED, fall 2015 undergraduate and graduate enrollment

[6] IPEDS, fall 2015 undergraduate enrollment

[7] IPEDS, 2014-15 completions

[8] IPEDS, 2014-15 completions by age group

[9] IPEDS, 2009 cohort, completers as of Aug. 2015, six-year grad. rates (2000 graduation rate from NYSED)

[10] IPEDS, 2014-15 completions

[11] Ibid.

[12] IPEDS, 2014-15 completions (using NYS CIP definitions for STEM fields)

[13] 2015 Economic Impact of New York State’s Independent Sector of Higher Education, prepared by the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) for the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Center for Governmental Research (CGR), 2015 data

[17] 2015 Economic Impact of New York State’s Independent Sector of Higher Education, prepared by the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) for the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities

[18] Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), Annual Report 2014-15, count reflects student headcount

[19] Ibid.

[20] Student Financial Assistance, 2015-16, U.S. Department of Education. Analysis by the National Association

of Independent Colleges and Universities.

[21] IPEDS, 2014-15

[22] IPEDS, based on fall 2015 enrollment of full-time and part-time undergraduate students at four-year institutions

[23] IPEDS, fall 2015 enrollment of full-time and part-time graduate students at four-year institutions

[24] IPEDS, degree completions, 2014-15

[25] NYSED

[26] National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey, FY2014

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Association of University Technology Managers, 2015

[30] U.S. News and World Report, university and college rankings, 2017

[31] The National Merit Scholarship, 2014-15 Annual Report

[32] IPEDS, 2015-16