CICU President Mary Beth Labate Testifies at Assembly Higher Education Committee Hearing

News Date: 12/12/2017

CICU President Mary Beth Labate testified on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017 before the New York State Assembly's Standing Committee on Higher Education during a hearing on the Enhanced Tuition Awards program. 

An excerpt of her testimony is below:

"One of the new models of financial aid introduced by the state this year was the Enhanced Tuition Award, or ETA, program. It was designed to offer aid to students at private, not-for-profit colleges. The pilot year of the program has taught us much. We have learned about some elements that are preventing the ETA program from reaching its full potential, while also learning about what can be done to make it more accessible to students and institutions.

"First, we would like to address the price controls included in the ETA to ensure that the policy goals of such controls are actually met. College affordability is a critical issue that we can all agree needs our focus, and we would like to have an open dialogue with the Legislature and Governor as to how that may best be achieved. Any discussion about price controls should take into account that net tuition revenue at private, not-for-profit colleges has remained relatively flat for nearly a decade as costs for college-funded student aid has almost doubled, from $2.9 billion to $5.4 billion and other costs associated with operating a college continue to increase. Trustees and senior leadership on our campuses weigh many factors when setting tuition and providing financial aid and I know that no one in Albany or on our campuses wants to do anything that would undermine the financial stability of institutions who educate our students, and provide the economic and cultural lifeblood for so many communities across the state.

"The second lesson is that the required aid match does not work for many campuses or students. As I have shared, our campuses already provide almost 90 percent of all grant aid—a total of $5.4 billion, which has nearly doubled over the past decade. Requiring a new matching program does not account for the aid campuses already give. This is particularly harmful to institutions that operate on a low-tuition, low-aid business model that keeps costs low for students. Many of these campuses are Minority Serving Institutions.

"When faced with a mandate to increase aid beyond what tuition revenue will allow, these campuses are forced to opt out of ETA. We urge discussions on allowing aid that colleges and universities are already giving their students to count towards the ETA match. We also urge the legislature to provide flexibility to Minority Serving Institutions on the percentage of matching aid required.

"Finally, in the lessons learned category, it is our hope that once the first-year kinks of administering the ETA are worked through, the universities and HESC will work out a system that best serves the students and their families. This includes making more timely notification of awards, so that students have all of the best information in front of them when they are making their college choice."

Click here to read Mary Beth Labate's full testimony.