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Statewide Plan for Higher Education 2004-2012

Proprietary Colleges

The 41 proprietary colleges are profit making, private entities. Most specialize in the fields of business and commerce. They operate on 50 main and branch campuses and 12 other locations. All but 12 are two-year institutions; six offer baccalaureate programs, three offer baccalaureate and graduate programs; three offer only graduate programs. Most of these institutions are members of a corporation called the Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC). The proprietary colleges receive no direct State institutional aid. In the fall of 2004, proprietary colleges had a total headcount enrollment of 49,750 students. This Plan projects on a basis of 2001-02 enrollment that they will enroll 46,300 students in 2013.

Consolidated Master Plan of the Proprietary Sector

The Association of Proprietary Colleges received copies of the master plan of each institution in the sector, and developed from them a consolidated master plan for the sector. Following brief introductory sections on the sector, on the planning process used, and on an overview of the sector, the plan focuses on the 13 priorities for the Statewide Plan. The consolidated plan identifies initiatives from the proprietary colleges and concludes with five recommendations to the Regents, the Governor, and the Legislature.

Statewide Plan Priorities

  1. Maximizing Success for all Higher Education Students

    High Educational Quality

    • A perception that emerges clearly from the institution plans within the sector is that high education quality is in large part a direct function of high institutional quality. The tools nearly universally used within the sector for pursuing ever-increasing institutional quality include ongoing and frequent review of academic programs, ongoing evaluation of institutional effectiveness, ongoing planning, keeping abreast of changing knowledge and technology through the use of outside advisory groups as well as faculty and management personnel, and constant attention to faculty quality through such devices as faculty teaching portfolios, professional development activities, and tuition reimbursement plans.
    • Student-related initiatives reported by proprietary colleges include arranging internships, offering a wide range of student services, creating on-line offerings, and aggressive student advisement.


    • Proprietary colleges view articulation with the offerings of other colleges from two perspectives, depending in part on the level of their own offerings. One institution offering both baccalaureate and master's degrees concentrates on pursuing articulation agreements with SUNY and CUNY community colleges to facilitate movement of students to the institution with minimal loss of credit and time. Its admissions counselors do significant outreach with students, informing them about things that will facilitate a successful move to a higher degree program. The goal of one baccalaureate institution with respect to articulation is to have agreements with all community colleges in the State. Another has 34 such agreements. Two others have or are pursuing articulation agreements with M.B.A.-granting institutions. 
    • Nearly all associate degree institutions in the sector have or are seeking articulation agreements with four-year colleges. Some offer transfer counseling to students considering pursuit of a baccalaureate degree. At least one maintains a "transfer resource room" where students can research information on four-year institutions.
    • The most common concern of proprietary colleges accredited by agencies other than Middle States is that many institutions in the other sectors do not recognize credit from institutions that do not have regional accreditation, despite State Education Department urging to the contrary. To deal with that problem, several two-year colleges are developing courses and reviewing existing courses to meet local public four-year colleges' requirements. A proprietary baccalaureate and master's-level institution, with many articulation agreements with two-year colleges, has observed a local community college redesign its fine arts curriculum to coincide with the requirements of the proprietary institution.


    • Access at an affordable cost is a major objective of proprietary institutions. With many students coming from lower and middle income families, the availability and adequacy of federal and State student financial assistance, together with scholarship aid, are key factors affecting access. However, three other strategies are crucial in the sector:
      • One is to maintain student charges at the lowest level consistent with institutional viability.
      • A second is to offer education and related services that place graduates in jobs paying enough so that student loans can be repaid in a timely way.
      • The third is to make available institutional financial assistance.

      The first two strategies are universal. The third varies.

    • The levels and variety of institutional financial aid made available by proprietary institutions is impressive: $12 million by one institution during 2002-03; $2.5 million in scholarships and $400,000+ in student wages by another; 2.8 percent of tuition revenue by a third; a program of one $1,000 per year merit scholarship at each high school in another college's catchment area; a policy at several institutions of not increasing tuition for continuously enrolled students; institutional scholarships for veterans and active duty military personnel; automatic scholarships for students in the top 25 percent of their high school graduating class; and consideration of student community involvement in awarding aid. Other techniques reported are zero to moderate annual tuition increases; encouraging employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement plans; encouraging high schools to offer programs for which college credit can be given, thus reducing a student's time in college; programs of pre-enrollment financial advice and financial assistance information; and creation of non-profit foundations to raise scholarship funds.

    Closing Performance Gaps.

    • Most of the techniques to close performance gaps are understood and used by most colleges. Of particular interest is the extent to which they have created mechanisms for identifying the recipients of those techniques and for overseeing, integrating, coordinating and applying them. Techniques reported include such structural arrangements as creating a Retention Committee of institution staff; designating a Student Services Coordinator; creating an Office of Campus Life; having a "diversity expert" on staff; and designating an Enrollment Management Committee.
    • Programmatic approaches reported include developing a Student Success Pilot Program and creating a Student Success Management Plan. Techniques used by colleges with formal structural and/or articulated programmatic approaches include new student orientation, assignment of academic advisors to new students, new faculty orientation, faculty development, mandatory first-year classes in study techniques and resources, tutorial assistance, remedial courses and programs, monitoring student attendance, student services and organizations, and techniques to identify students in difficulty. Other widely used techniques include maximizing scheduling effectiveness to increase student satisfaction and persistence, matching students to programs, use of the Noel-Levitz Retention Management System, scheduled times for one-on-one faculty assistance for students experiencing academic difficulty, English as a second language programs, significant use of minority faculty, bilingual tutoring, extensive use of computerized "learning centers," small class size, on-line tutoring, and regular meetings of each student with campus directors and deans.
    • Since 2001, the Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC) has been the recipient of GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grants to help at-risk youths, beginning in the eighth grade, to get ready for college. It has developed workshops targeting parents, teachers, and guidance counselors, as well as students. Activities have also included career fairs, financial aid information sessions, admissions conferences, campus visits, computer camps, and remedial math and English classes. APC expects the program to continue at least until 2005, when the original cohort of eighth graders will be applying for college admission.

    Students with Disabilities.

    • Most colleges use a variety of initiatives to assist students with disabilities that go well beyond reasonable accommodations. They range from encouraging students to disclose known disabilities to facilitate maximum institutional support, through employment of learning disabilities specialists, faculty and staff training that addresses common perceptions and misperceptions about individuals with disabilities, training faculty to identify learning disabilities, encouraging faculty to bring to the attention of a dean or other designated staff member any student who appears to have a disability, outreach programs for high school students with disabilities, peer mentoring, special tutoring, the use of study aides, school-supervised internships, to such structural arrangements as designation of a Disabled Student Coordinator, formation of an internal Committee on Disabilities, provision of Learning Centers, and working closely with VESID. Every college provides equipment to accommodate physical disabilities and special materials, equipment, and software needed by students with disabilities; and assures accessibility to the campus.
  2. Smooth Student Transition from PreK-12 to Higher Education

    Preparation for College

    The Plan combined this with the next priority.

    Information and Assistance in Preparing for College

    • Initiatives include pre-enrollment activities and some significant post-enrollment efforts. The former include literacy programs in local elementary schools, presentations at high schools about career fields, previews of the college experience, arranging high school pupils' visits to the college campus, providing newspapers to local high schools for current events sessions, entering into articulation arrangements with high schools, assisting high school staff with curriculum development, encouraging high schools to offer Advanced Placement tests, offering courses to high school pupils for college credit, arranging student-counselor meetings pre-admission, and offering a summer "bridge program" for students with uneven college preparation, including instruction in English and math, orientation to campus resources, and study skills workshops. Post-admission techniques include required "college success skills" courses, regular meetings with advisors, faculty "open door" policies, placement examinations, early remedial courses in college, and designation of a "student success coordinator."
  3. Meeting New York's Needs through Graduate Programs and through Research

    Strong Graduate Programs to Meet the State's Needs

    Because only three institutions in the sector offer post-baccalaureate programs, the sector plan did not address this priority.

    Creation of New Knowledge through Research

    • Although no institution professes to have a research component, several rely on external industry professionals to assist them to keep current on advances in their fields that affect the curricula of supplying new people whose collegiate training is state-of-the-art. One institution offering only post-baccalaureate courses in management requires all students to conduct applied research in areas they are likely to encounter in the workplace. Most institutions regularly canvass employers to determine what course revisions or new courses may be needed to meet workplace needs and what skills are most lacking in the business community.

  4. Qualified Professionals for Every Community throughout the State

    An Adequate Supply of Qualified Professionals.

    • Few proprietary colleges offer programs leading to professional licensure. Exceptions are in court reporting and accounting. One institution that offers a degree in court reporting is moving strongly into the areas of captioning and communication access real-time translation (CART).

    An Adequate Supply of Qualified Teachers, School Leaders, and other School Professionals.

    • Only two proprietary institutions (Five Towns College and the School of Visual Arts) offer programs leading to teacher certification; one is giving consideration to moving in that direction within the period of this Plan.

  5. A Balanced and Flexible Regulatory Environment to Support Excellence

    Encouraging a Highly Effective System.

    • The sector's universal commitment to self-study is consistent with the objectives of the regulatory environment over which the Regents preside. The sector has consistently advocated even-handed but firm insistence by regulators on adherence by each institution to the standards expected of all higher education institutions in the State. That approach must not be compromised by budgetary constraints, the rapid growth of new institutions, distance learning initiatives, and the growing proliferation of extension centers and sites. The Association of Proprietary Colleges repeats its willingness to assist the Department in reviewing institutions and programs in the sector.

    Funding a Highly Effective System.

    • Proprietary colleges are unique in New York's higher education community in receiving no governmental financial assistance. That means that their students must be especially reliant on student financial aid, with TAP constituting the major source. The sector believes that TAP should be viewed as a highly productive investment of State funds in the future of citizens as workers and taxpayers. Apart from student financial assistance, the sector believes that adequate financial support of the State Education Department's role in monitoring the quality of New York's higher education offerings is likewise an investment that will yield valuable dividends. Substantive areas deserving careful State funding attention include students with disabilities and students for whom English is a second language.

Priorities of the Proprietary Colleges

  • The single most often expressed objective is the nurturing of an academic community that appreciates diversity and the provision of additional programs and activities geared to students from diverse backgrounds. One college has been ranked 17th in the nation in awarding associate degrees to minority students.
  • A close second is increasing articulation arrangements both with high schools and with other higher education institutions.
  • In the areas of institutional self-evaluation and planning, many colleges plan enhanced and more aggressive activities. Many look toward and plan for enrollment growth, with a need for improved and additional facilities and equipment, including increased library, learning center, and computer laboratory space and equipment.
  • In the academic area, many colleges plan to expand curricula significantly, including offering graduate programs in at least one case at the doctoral level. One college is looking toward such emerging fields as sports marketing, network/wireless security, medical insurance coding and billing, and homeland security. A number of colleges are looking at moving to the next degree level or to seek regional accreditation. Others seek to integrate distance education with traditional teaching modes.

Recommendations by the Proprietary Sector

  • The Regents should encourage all institutions in the other three sectors of higher education to have articulation arrangements that recognize transfer credit fairly and in the best interests of the student.
  • The Legislature and the Governor should maintain and, when fiscally feasible, enhance the level of TAP aid.
  • The Legislature and the Governor should provide for the timely release of TAP aid to institutions.
  • The Department should standardize quantitative outcomes measurements for all institutions in all sectors.
  • The Legislature and the Governor should consistently provide the State Education Department with sufficient resources to ensure an effective regulatory presence in higher education.

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Last Updated: October 27, 2009