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Could NY colleges fail? DiNapoli report points to declining enrollment, rising costs, and increasing student debt as issues

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  • Staff Report 

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has raised concerns about the future of higher education in New York, citing significant challenges such as declining enrollment, rising costs, and increasing student debt. A new report highlights that both public and private colleges and universities in the state are struggling to attract students, a trend that has been worsening since the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s higher education institutions, known for their contribution to the local economy, have seen their lowest total enrollment in 15 years during Fall 2022.


The report details an impending “enrollment cliff” expected to begin in 2025 due to demographic changes, which could further strain the finances of educational institutions. Despite a recent increase in enrollment at the State University of New York (SUNY) system, overall numbers remain below previous years, with community colleges experiencing nearly three-quarters of this growth. This decline in student numbers over the past decade has already led to downsizing or closure of several institutions.

DiNapoli’s findings also touch on the growing burden of student loan debt and the disparity in costs between New York’s institutions and the national average. Despite these challenges, the report suggests that graduates from New York’s colleges tend to fare better in terms of degree completion rates and earnings compared to national figures. The Comptroller urges strategic action to address these issues, emphasizing the need for affordable, diverse, and innovative higher education to maintain New York’s competitive edge.



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