Governor Receives Commission Report

Governor David Paterson issued the following release upon receipt of the final report by the Commission on Higher Education.

GOVERNOR PATERSON ANNOUNCES COMMITMENT TO LOW-INTEREST STUDENT LOANS AND REGULATORY REFORM; RECEIVES FINAL REPORT OF COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION
Embraces Other Recommendations of Higher Education Commission

Commends Commission Members for Dedication to Improving Higher Education in New York

Governor David A. Paterson today announced his administration’s commitment to creating a low-cost student loan program – one of the key recommendations in the New York State Commission on Higher Education’s Final Report. New York is one of the few remaining states without a state-financed student loan program. Governor Paterson met with members of the commission to discuss their recent recommendations to improve the State’s education programs.

“I want to thank the members of this Commission for their commitment and dedication to improving higher education in the State of New York,” said Governor Paterson. “Their extensive work and research has resulted in a comprehensive list of exciting recommendations for our consideration. My administration is committed to ensuring that we provide the best education services to our citizens. Given the State’s fiscal situation, we will first seek to implement those recommendations which achieve high impact at little or no cost and at the same time pursue innovative ways to finance some of the recommendations which require State funding.”

Hunter Rawlings, Chairman of the New York State Commission on Higher Education said: “The Higher Education Commission report outlines a strategy for making New York competitive in the 21st century global economy. New York can and should be the national and international leader in higher education. With this report and Governor Paterson’s leadership, that can be a reality.”

“One of the major recommendations in the report is the creation of a low-cost student loan program,” said Governor Paterson. “As credit markets tighten and fewer financial institutions participate in student lending, students and their families are faced with the prospect of paying higher and higher interest rates. New York is one of the only states in the nation without a state-financed student loan program; it is time for that to change, which is why my administration will introduce legislation to include this critical program in next year’s budget.”

Governor Paterson has proposed the establishment of a low-interest loan program to be financed through the issuance of revenue-backed bonds. Resident students enrolled in a degree program at a college or university in New York State would be eligible to apply. The proposal is cost neutral to the State over the long term since the costs of debt service and administration can be passed on to the borrower while still achieving a lower interest rate for students than that which they find in the private market.

In addition to announcing his support for a low-cost student loan program, Governor Paterson informed members of the commission that he will support their recommendation to provide regulatory relief for SUNY and CUNY. “We need to give SUNY and CUNY the flexibility to act nimbly and respond quickly to change,” said Governor Paterson. The Commission recommended regulatory reform in three key areas: the sale or lease of property, procurement, and construction. Governor Paterson’s administration will work to include these changes as part of a larger effort for statewide regulatory reform.

Several other recommendations from the Commission’s Preliminary Report issued in December 2007 have already begun to be implemented. They include:

* Critical maintenance: The 2008-09 Enacted Budget included $834 million for critical maintenance at SUNY and CUNY as the first year in a five-year plan which would provide $4.17 billion total.
* Transfer of Course Credits: SUNY has created a task-force of community college and four-year college faculty which is dedicated to executing the commission’s articulation recommendation.
* Research Focus at SUNY: The SUNY Board of Trustees was restructured to provide more targeted focus on research and university centers.
* P-16 collaboration: Efforts are underway state-wide on Early College High Schools, College Access Challenge Grants and the Regents’ P-16 agenda.

The New York State Commission on Higher Education was established by Executive Order in May 2007 and is chaired by Hunter Rawlings, President Emeritus, Cornell University. The members of the Commission include presidents’ of numerous public and private colleges throughout the State of New York as well as stakeholders in the higher education community. The Commission issued a preliminary report to the Governor in December 2007.