Colleges Urge Governor Cuomo to Lift Barriers of Opportunity

Nearly 40,000 New York college students pursuing State Board of Regents approved degrees, and their personal dreams are looking to Governor Cuomo to open the door of opportunity by signing into law legislation making them eligible for the state’s enhanced tuition award program. 

The legislation, (Senate Bill No. 5891 / Assembly Bill No. 7697) sponsored by Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Victor Pichardo would provide students, if income eligible, with access to additional state financial support for college tuition.

The measure would remedy a failure in a program created last year focusing on making college affordable. Today it unfairly limits student participation at all New York Colleges.  It stems from the fact that the New York State Department of Education, and the New York State Board of Regents approved various degree programs and regulate colleges using a common standard across all sectors of higher education. This long-held policy ensures that students attending college in New York State are assured of quality academic programs and consumer protections that simply do not exist across the country. 

Donna Gurnett, President of New York Association of Proprietary Colleges said: “By lifting the restrictions that are currently in place – Governor Cuomo would once again be leading the nation by opening doors of opportunity to New Yorkers who are working hard to earn their college degree, reduce student debt and secure a better job.”

In recent weeks, the legislation, which was overwhelmingly approved by the State Legislature, has been the target of attacks by those who are simply unaware or uninformed of New York State’s leadership position in the field of higher education, and its reputation of cross sector regulatory parity or the record of achievement of the students attending New York’s proprietary colleges.

“Higher education is about accessibility – but for many, the cost of tuition is a barrier, and when our students are blunted from participating in an income-based program – you are saying you are not worthy to participate to a college population that is composed of 70 percent women, 41 percent black or Hispanic and more than 2,000 veterans,” Gurnett said.

Veterans Programs Key to Student Success and Career Achievement

The Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC) today recognized the approximately 1,100 veterans who are attending college and pursing various degrees on member campuses across the state.

“Veterans Day, November 11, is a day to remember and pay tribute to our men and women who have served in uniform,” said Donna Stelling-Gurnett, president and CEO of the Association of Proprietary Colleges. “APC member colleges have always sought to make a quality college education more affordable and attainable for veterans – and to ease their transition from the military to civilian life and work.”

APC member institutions offer scholarships, counseling, benefit delivery assistance, and a variety of other services to support the highest dreams of deserving student veterans. For instance, Berkeley College collaborates with the National Guard, the Army and the Air Force, the GoArmyEd distance learning program, and the navy College Program Distance Learning Partnership.

To assist student veterans, The College of Westchester coordinates a Veterans Advisory Council made of up regional veteran’s originations and participates in the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program, making up to $5,000 in additional funds available for a student veteran’s education program.

Bryant & Stratton College also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and has affirmed their support for the “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success,” a voluntary initiative through the U.S. Departments of Education, Veterans Affairs, and Defense. The 8 Keys are steps that postsecondary institutions can take to assist veterans and service members in transitioning to higher education, completing their college programs, and obtaining career-ready skills.

To help its nearly 250 student-veterans, Monroe College is hosting a Department of Veteran Affairs mobile vet center on its Bronx campus one day a week. The mobile unit is equipped with confidential counseling space and a state of the art communication package to enable veterans to receive in-person and telehealth medical care and treatment, as well as family support, mental health counseling, substance abuse assessment and referral, and VA benefits explanation and referral, among other comprehensive programs and services.

Today APC member institutions pay tribute to the following remarkable veteran students and graduates:

  • Joshua Cosme, Veteran, E-4 Specialist United States Army/Student, Jamestown Business College

Joshua has the distinction of witnessing the events that form the basis of National Geographic’s TV series, “The Long Road Home.”  Joshua is currently completing his bachelor’s degree in Business Management at Jamestown Business College (JBC), and plans to pursue a master’s degree. He respectfully credits JBC for helping him reintegrate into civilian life, which has enabled him to coach his son’s little league team as well as helping his fellow veterans by getting them involved with organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the local PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Program.

  • Mary Fuentes, Veteran, Staff Sergeant United States Army/Student, Monroe College

Staff Sergeant Mary Fuentes and her husband, John Samudio, fell in love in the United States Army. After devoting 11 years to her country, Mary decided to return to civilian life so she could be home with their daughter, Brooklyn. Yet, Mary still wanted to give back and help her fellow veterans. That’s when she enrolled in Monroe College’s Hospitality Program. Once her bachelor’s degree is complete, the pair plan to start their own business providing meals to needy veterans.

  • Jonathan Phelps: Veteran, E-4 Corporal United States Marine Corp/Student, Bryant and Stratton College, Greece Campus

Jonathan was stationed in Japan when the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011 hit. Surviving the quake, which took the lives of thousands of people across Japan, he aided a countless number of families displaced by this natural disaster. Once back home in Rochester, NY, Jonathan’s primary objective was to receive a college degree. And he quickly determined that Bryant & Stratton College provided a clear path to that goal. Jonathan is currently studying business at Bryant & Stratton College in Greece campus and will received his Bachelor’s degree in December 2017.

  • Kevin Gammel: Veteran, United States Air Force/Graduate, Elmira Business Institute (EBI)

After 20 years with the United States Air Force, Kevin decided it was time to pursue a degree in Business Management. Having moved to the Elmira area to be closer to family, EBI was the perfect fit. So perfect in fact that his wife, Tamme, decided to attend EBI as well. Receiving his associate degree in Small Business Management from EBI was just the beginning for Kevin. He has since gone on to receive his bachelor’s in Business Administration and is currently working on his master’s in business. Following her father’s example, Kevin’s daughter Katie is currently enrolled at EBI.

“Having served our nation with honor and courage, our student veterans deserve every opportunity to succeed,” Stelling-Gurnett. “APC member institutions are committed to providing a quality education with the supports necessary to assist all our student veterans as they navigate their way towards obtaining a degree and finding a rewarding career.”


* Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos slammed the established “education system” and kicked off a “Rethink School” tour to highlight innovative ways educators are meeting the needs of students in K-12 and higher education. US News and World Report writes:

* Mind the Gap! Targeting student concerns during the yield phase of enrollment. Eduventures writes:

* Ernest Ezeugo, a program assistant for the Education Policy program at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. opines in The Hechinger Report about misguided payment policies that fuel the college-dropout trap:

* A simple way to bring down college-application costs. The Atlantic reports:

* A U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations approved a funding bill that includes an 18-month extension for colleges that are overseen by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to find a new accreditor. Inside Higher Ed reports:

* U.S. Sens. Blumenthal and Murphy reintroduce Students Before Profits Act. Westfair Communications reports:

* Students get tuition aid for a piece of their future. The Wall Street Journal reports:

* Market Watch writes on how Trump’s DACA decision affects colleges and students:

* Pell Grant award to rise, but program reserves remain in jeopardy.  The Washington Post reports:


* American Assassin directed by SVA alum Michael Cuesta makes the list at Rotten Tomatoes:

Donna Gurnett, president and CEO of New York’s Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC) submitted testimony yesterday before the Office of Postsecondary Education U.S. Department of Education. View her testimony here.

The Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC) today announced that Board Member Marc M. Jerome was named to Higher Education Service Corporation’s (HESC) Board of Trustees following unanimous confirmation by the New York State Senate on June 19. Mr. Jerome, president of Monroe College, was nominated to the position by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

The Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) is New York State’s higher education student financial aid agency. It administers the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), various state scholarship and loan forgiveness programs, the state’s 529 College Savings Program, and other programs and initiatives to make college more affordable for New York students and their families.

Mr. Jerome is president of Bronx-based Monroe College, a national leader in urban education that delivers some of the best outcomes in the country for first-generation urban students. He has played an integral role in leading Monroe College for more than two decades, serving as Executive Vice President for 22 years prior to his elevation to President in January 2017. He has served as an APC Board Member since 2000.

“I look forward to the opportunity to help HESC in its important work to improve college access and affordability for New York’s students and am honored to be named to its Board of Trustees,” said Mr. Jerome.

A seasoned educator and recognized expert on the impact of higher education policy on underrepresented student populations, Mr. Jerome has long championed students’ interests in Albany and Washington, DC. He has shared his perspectives on higher education policy and regulatory design with the White House, the Department of Education, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and NASFAA, among others, and provided counsel on fair and balanced solutions to achieve desired outcomes.

“For more than two decades, Marc Jerome has been a state and national leader in the field of higher education,” said Donna Gurnett, President and CEO of APC. “His
perspectives on higher education policy and insights on college access and affordability will no doubt be of great benefit to HESC as it continues its work to help college-bound New Yorkers achieve their college dreams.”

HESC’s Board of Trustees is an 13-member governance body that provides strategic guidance and fiduciary oversight. Mr. Jerome was selected to represent New York’s vibrant proprietary sector, which educates nearly 35,000 students at institutions across the state. His non-compensated position begins immediately.

Mr. Jerome earned his undergraduate degree at Tufts University and his juris doctor from University of Pennsylvania’s School of Law.