Senate Higher Education Committee Hearing Testimony

Representatives from APC member colleges testified in Albany before the Senate Higher Education Committee Hearing on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Marc Jerome, President of Monroe College; Christopher Barto, VP of Government Relations and Community Affairs at LIM College, and Fran Felser, President of Bryant & Stratton College offered testimony and answered questions from the Senators and Assemblymembers in attendance. Other speakers that day included Mary Ellen Elia, Commissioner of the New York State Education Department. As a group they pointed out that APC member colleges are already highly regulated by several groups including New York State Education Department, just like the other sectors of higher education in New York State.

 

Marc Jerome, President of Monroe College

 

Christopher Barto, VP of Government Relations and Community Affairs at LIM College

 

Fran Felser, President of Bryant & Stratton College

 

Michael Hatten, New York Automotive & Diesel Institute

 

Questions from the Senators

 

Mary Ellen Elia, Commissioner of the New York State Education Department

 

Questions from the Senators for Commissioner Elia

 

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APC Student Lobby Day:

More than 85 students and staff from APC member colleges met at the State Capitol on Wednesday, March 6, for the 2019 Student Lobby Day. College leaders highlighted the needs of APC students, their success and on-time degree graduation rates, and shared stories of local business executives who rely on these students to fill critical positions every day. Students attending APC member colleges told legislators about their positive college experiences and the important role that TAP and the ETA program played in their ability attend college.

 

Governor Cuomo’s Proposed For-Profit College Accountability Act:

In many ways, the goals of APC align with Governor Cuomo’s goal of expanding access to higher education and combating student debt and “practices that increase student debt.”   However, we believe that the Governor’s proposed For-Profit College Accountability Act is flawed, not only because it targets just the proprietary sector but also because it ignores the long history of strong student outcomes and success demonstrated by this sector.

We appreciate the continued support of the Senate and Assembly and their recognition of APC member colleges’ track record of strong academic outcomes. Due to the support in both houses, the Governor’s proposal was rejected in the final enacted state budget.

Among the most problematic elements of Governor Cuomo’s accountability proposal are:

The 80/20 Rule: Require for-profit schools to report their funding sources and demonstrate that they are not receiving more than 80 percent of their tuition revenue from public sources, including need based student financial aid programs such as TAP and Pell as well as student loans that are backed by the federal government.

For the first time ever, New York is trying to restrict student choice and opportunity by limiting the amount of tuition revenue a college can receive from public sources. While on the face of the proposal it may seem logical to require for-profit colleges to have revenue from non-public sources, the reality is the proposal is targeting low-income and minority students that depend on federal and state grant and loan programs to attend college.

Since 1992, the federal government has regulated the amount of federal funds a for-profit college can receive from tuition revenue. The federal rule is referred to as “90/10” meaning that 10 percent of tuition revenue must come from a private source other than Pell or federally backed student loans. The federal rule does not look at financial supports provided to veterans through the GI bill or any state or local grant or loan programs. All APC member colleges meet the federal measure without difficulty. On average the colleges receive 60% of their tuition revenue from Pell and federally backed student loans.

The Governor’s 80/20 proposal would not only increase the amount of revenue that must come from private sources, it also significantly expands what is a public source. Under the proposal, a public source includes:

• TAP;

• ETA;

• All federal student loan and grant programs; and

• ANY Other local, state, or federal government loan, grant or scholarship program utilized to pay tuition, institutional fees, room and board, or other costs of attendance on behalf of a student.

Essentially, any federal, state, or local loan or grant program would be included in the 80% calculation. Many APC member colleges serve a high number of low income, minority or first generation students who utilize need based programs such as TAP and Pell to gain access to higher education. Students attending public, private, and for-profit colleges rely on federally backed loans to finance their education. Very few students can afford to pay 100% of their tuition, fees, room and board without some type of public assistance.

50% on Instruction: Require that for-profit schools spend at least 50% of their revenues on student instruction

APC supports the philosophy behind this proposal but believe it is flawed because instruction is only one component of what low income and minority students need to succeed and graduate. Under the Governor’s proposal, for-profit colleges would be required to spend at least 50% of their revenue on salaries, benefits, and professional development of classroom instructors. This definition completely disregards the substantial investment many of New York’s proprietary institutions make in student academic support programs and personnel, wrap around services and other capital improvements made to ensure our students successfully graduate on time and find jobs in their field of study.

No APC member colleges will meet this metric and in fact, over 65% of all four year colleges in all sectors of higher education in New York do not meet this measure. For instance, highly respected institutions such as NYU (30%), Cornell University (33%) and The Julliard School (33%) would not meet this metric. One of the keys to our students’ success is the use of adjunct and part time faculty that often provides access to student internships. APC member colleges are proud of the investments they make in student instruction and academic support: For every $1.00 in revenue received by an APC member college, approximately 93 cents are spent on the instruction and support of students.

APC member colleges are committed to helping their students succeed. The majority of the 26,000 students enrolling at an APC member college are coming directly from our urban public schools that have high school graduation rates of approximately 50%. Students enter college need remediation but also supports to stay on track. Strong academics require talented faculty and instructors. However, students cannot learn or take advantage of the opportunity if they cannot afford tuition, day care, transportation, food and the necessities of life. Further, many students attending APC member colleges, were previously enrolled at a college where they did not succeed. Students enroll, graduate on-time, and find jobs in their field of study because of the personalized attention and supports they receive which include everything from help with their resume, finding internships and job opportunities, counseling and mentoring, financial literacy, and development of soft skills that set them apart when entering the job market. All of these supports, come directly from the college, and are funded through tuition revenues, since the college must manage all costs with tuition received.

 

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