CICC Member Spotlight


New York by the Numbers

  • New York is home to over 200 independent higher education institutions enrolling more than 460,000 students.
  • In 2018-19, students at all New York colleges and universities received:
    • 466,497 Pell Grants Awards totaling $1,996,550,023
    • 129,507 Federal Work-Study Awards and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG) totaling $161,874,117


Elise Stefanik (R-NY)

    Elise Stefanik has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2015. In the 116th Congress, she serves on the House Committee on Education and Labor, Committee on Armed Services, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Stefanik is a member of the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus.


Q: Why did you decide to join the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus?
A: As a proud graduate of an independent college, the caucus allows me to be a leading voice in Congress on the issues impacting nonprofit colleges and universities.  I continue to see the impact independent colleges make on the lives of students, and in the communities across my district and throughout the nation. A strength of our higher education system is the variety that exists across the sector, in which private colleges have an important place in providing students with distinct learning opportunities to foster their individual growth and development. The caucus brings our bipartisan group of members together to advocate for these schools



"Congresswoman Stefanik is a bi-partisan leader for clean
energy, environmental research and public policies that
advance sustainable economic development as well as
ensure sound protections for our most precious natural resources. 
As a national research university and proven leader in
technological education committed to sustainable solutions
through teaching, scholarship, research and innovation,
Clarkson is grateful for her partnership with the University,
the North Country district she serves and the nation that
needs world-relevant responses to the complex issues we face. "

– Anthony G. Collins., Ph.D..
President, Clarkson University




Q: What contributions are independent colleges making in your district?
A: We are fortunate to have several private, nonprofit colleges in my district, providing a range of postsecondary opportunities for students in the North Country. From early college programs that allow high school students to get a jump on college coursework, to advanced degree programs for career professionals looking to elevate their skillset, our independent colleges support a culture of lifelong learning. The contributions these colleges make extend far beyond the classroom and reach all residents of our communities.
Paul Smith's College operates a regional water quality monitoring and invasive species management program, which offers free boat inspection and decontamination across the Adirondack region. Through the North Country Innovation Hot Spot Program, Clarkson University supports local entrepreneurs with workshops and one-on-one consultations as they start or expand their business. Our independent colleges are embedded in the fabric of my district.  



"We are grateful to Congresswoman Stefanik’s ongoing
support for higher education.   Her unwavering advocacy
for programs such as Pell and veterans programs ensures
that many worthy students have access to a great education
at schools such as Paul Smith’s College.  Her passionate
leadership in addressing significant economic and
environmental issues is also highly valued by
our entire region."

- Cathy S. Dove, Ph.D.
President, Paul Smith’s College



Q: How do you see these schools innovating?
A: Some of the most exciting innovations I have seen are how the schools are adapting to meet the needs of students across the continuum of their academic careers. For example,
Clarkson University has a residential early college program where high school aged students are able to enroll in a full slate of college courses, while receiving additional support and opportunities for growth. Additionally, many of our independent colleges offer online education or a hybrid approach that blends online coursework with face-to-face interaction with instructors. These innovative programs allow working professionals to continue their education in a way that suits the demands of their life.



“Congresswoman Stefanik understands the transformational
power of higher education and has been a leader and
strong supporter of issues such as access and affordability
that are important to colleges and universities
in the North Country.”

- William L. Fox, Ph.D.
President, St.. Lawrence University



Q: As a Member of Congress, how do you support the opportunity for education?
A: I serve on the Education and Labor Committee, where we have been focused on updating the Higher Education Act to keep pace with the innovation occurring on campuses across the nation, while addressing some of the barriers students face in attaining a postsecondary degree. Pell Grants are the cornerstone of the federal government’s commitment to providing access and opportunity to all students, and I have been the leading advocate for modernizing Pell to meet the needs of the contemporary student, who are increasingly over the age of 25, engaged in the workforce, and with family. I led the push to provide students with year-round access to Pell Grants and supported increases in the size of the award to keep up with the rising cost of a degree.  I am also leading an effort to extend Pell eligibility to high school students who are dually enrolled in postsecondary coursework.




“On behalf of New York’s 100+ private, not-for-profit
colleges and universities, we are grateful for Congresswoman
Stefanik’s steadfast commitment to New York’s private,
not-for-profit colleges and universities and the students
we serve. Her push to make Pell Grants available year round
and to increase the size of the award has enabled many
students to pursue their college dreams. We applaud her
for recognizing and supporting the tremendous contributions
that private colleges in her district make to the local
economies, the workforce and to New York’s growing
reputation as an innovation hub.” 

- Mary Beth Labate
President, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities



Q: How has your own experience attending an independent college impacted you?
A: I am the first in my immediate family to graduate from college, and the education I received truly changed the trajectory of my life and opened the door to new opportunities. Having experienced the transformational power of postsecondary education, I know the importance of expanding access and increasing the affordability of a college degree. Equipping students with the skills to excel in today’s dynamic economy will increasingly require some level of postsecondary education. As I work with my colleagues to update the Higher Education Act, ensuring higher education remains a pathway to opportunity is a top priority.  


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