Press Release

Gillibrand Convenes Summit Of NY College And University Presidents In Washington To Announce New Agenda To Expand Higher Education In NY

Jun 8, 2010

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Gillibrand convened the first Washington, D.C. summit of college and university presidents from around New York. During meetings with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and nearly 80 college and university presidents from across New York, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced her new agenda to rebuild New York’s economy by creating more higher education opportunities, and fostering innovation at New York’s colleges and universities to create good-paying jobs across the state.

The median income for New Yorkers with a bachelor, graduate, or professional degree is nearly double the median income for New Yorkers with only a high school graduate degree. To foster opportunity and innovation at New York colleges and universities, Senator Gillibrand’s agenda makes college more affordable and expands opportunities for higher education to all hardworking students; promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to produce the next generation of experts in high-tech fields; and fosters strong partnerships among research institutions, science parks and private enterprises to commercialize scientific breakthroughs, spark new businesses, and create new, good-paying jobs in every region of New York.

“Fostering opportunity and innovation at our colleges and universities is critical to our economic growth,” Senator Gillibrand said. “No other state is poised to lead in the high-tech economy of the future like New York. Our state is home to the leading colleges and universities in the world. These institutions are home to laboratories, researchers and the bright minds we need for long-term economic strength. This agenda opens the doors of our world class colleges and universities to more of our students, makes college more affordable for all families, and harnesses all of our state’s potential in the high-tech sector to spark new industries, attract businesses and create the jobs of the future right here in New York.”

According to new analysis of U.S. Census data by Senator Gillibrand’s office, the median income of a New Yorker with a bachelor’s degree, graduate or professional degree nearly doubles that of a New Yorker with only a high school diploma.

READ the full report on how a college education leads to higher individual earnings and a stronger overall economy.

1.  Ensuring Affordability and Access for More New Yorkers

Creating More College Opportunities
To open the door of higher education to all hardworking students, Senator Gillibrand is cosponsoring the Pathways to College Act, legislation that authorizes competitive five-year grants to local education agencies (LEAs) that serve high-need high schools to increase the number of students from low-income families who attend college. Additionally, Senator Gillibrand will be cosponsoring the Graduation Promise Act (GPA), legislation to help improve high school graduation rates and turn around struggling high school.

Senator Gillibrand has also authored the bipartisan Roosevelt Scholars Act – legislation to increase the number experts in high-tech fields pursuing careers in public service by creating a civilian ROTC program. The program would offer full tuition at the undergraduate or graduate level in critical fields, such as science, engineering, public health, information technology, foreign languages and law, in exchange for a federal service commitment.

Making College More Affordable for All
With student debt at an all-time high and students facing rising tuition and fees, Senator Gillibrand took action earlier this year to pass legislation to increase the amount of Pell Grant scholarships for nearly 70,000 New York students eligible for Pell Grants, opening the doors of higher education to more students.

Overall, the legislation invests a total of $36 billion into the Pell Grant program over 10 years, including $22.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant award from $5,550 next year to nearly $6,000 over the years ahead to help keep pace with inflation. This investment will allow approximately 67,500 New York students to be eligible for Pell Grants that provide need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to expand access to higher education.  Last school year, 6.2 million Americans relied on Pell Grants to help pay for college and career training. Nearly 90 percent of those students come from families earning less than $40,000 a year. 

To continuing making college more affordable for all families, Senator Gillibrand is working to extend tax cuts on college tuition for an additional year. The tax cuts allow taxpayers to deduct up to $4,000 of qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, books and other expenses when they file federal income taxes.   

2.  Promoting STEM Education at All Levels of Education

The fastest growing occupations over the last decade require expertise in the fields of science and technology, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But less than one-third of American students are proficient in math and science, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and our existing high-tech workforce is getting older – with more than half of Americans with science and engineering degrees at least 40 years old.

Graduating More STEM Students
To graduate the amount of students we need in math and science to compete in the high-tech economy, Senator Gillibrand will be authoring new legislation in the Senate called the Undergraduate Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Act (US STEM) Act. The legislation would establish a new program under the National Science Foundation to award 2,500 undergraduate scholarships each year for students’ full tuition during their last two years at a state institution.

The program would emphasize attracting more low-income, high-achieving students to pursue degrees in math, science and engineering – making sure every hardworking student has a path to higher education and success in careers that will define the economy of the future.

Produce More STEM Teachers
To expand and improve STEM education, we must look at the entire “P through 16” pipeline. High school and primary schools are in need of more STEM teacher to ready students for college. To that end, Senator Gillibrand is pushing the Senate version of the National STEM Education Tax Incentive for Teachers Act. This legislation would provide STEM teachers who work in low-income, high-need schools a tax credit to cover 10 percent of their undergraduate tuition – up to $1,000 each year. STEM teachers in schools serving children with disabilities would be able to deduct up to $1,500 each year.

The legislation is a critical tool to attract STEM teachers to low-income schools and help increase the number of low-income and middle-class students succeeding in STEM classes and pursuing careers in math, science and engineering, which America now lags behind China and India by 5 to 1.

Strengthening New York’s Education Pipeline
To arm our students with the education they need to succeed in the 21st economy, Senator Gillibrand is pushing the E2 for Innovation Act. This legislation would establish a five year program (2011-2015) to award grants through the Secretary of Education in consultation with the National Science Foundation for the planning and implementation of engineering education into K-12 classrooms. It would also provide funding for three years to the Institute of Education Sciences for research and evaluation grants to assess the effectiveness of the funds used for planning and implementation. The funded projects would:

  • Integrate engineering education into K-12 classrooms by designing challenging content and curricula frameworks and assessments that include engineering.
  • Increase engineering and technology teacher preparation programs and recruit qualified teachers to provide engineering education in high-need schools. 
  • Increase student achievement in STEM subjects and knowledge and competency in engineering design skills.
  • Promote aspirations for a career in engineering among diverse students, especially among girls and underrepresented minorities.
  • Promote partnerships among K-12 school administrators and teachers, and engineering member bodies and engineering professionals.

3.  Fostering Partnerships Between Higher Education and Private Businesses to Drive Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Supporting Regional Economic Clusters
To grow the economy, businesses must work together and draw on regional strengths that can attract more investment to the area. To foster regional economic growth, Senator Gillibrand is pushing the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act – legislation that would award competitive industry or sector partnership grants from $250,000 to $2.5 million to eligible entities to develop cluster-based economic development strategies.  This funding is critical to connecting regional businesses, suppliers, research and development entities, education and training providers, and associated institutions in a particular field to fulfill regional workforce needs and grow regional economies.

From Eastern New York’s Tech Valley to Western New York’s biotech corridor, to New York City’s Bioscience Initiative, the SECTORS Act would provide critical federal investments to some of New York’s most promising regional cluster development projects and lay the foundation for our state’s long term economic strength in the high-tech sector.

Strengthening Business Incubators Senator Gillibrand is also pushing the Business Incubator Promotion Act, which would provide additional flexibility and funding to support incubators, particularly in areas where there is high unemployment. This ensures that areas that are the most economically distressed and in need of EDA funds have opportunities to receive those funds. It also promotes business incubators by both constructing new incubators and expanding and supporting existing incubators.

Harnessing the Full Power of Science Parks
Science parks are critical to transferring major breakthroughs in academic research into promising new business ventures and new jobs. New York is home to some of the nation’s best science parks, including at Clarkson University, the University at Buffalo, Binghamton University, the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering at the University at Albany, New York University and Stony Brook University.

New York City’s Bioscience Initiative brings together over a dozen world-class research institutions and business leaders to grow New York’s bioscience industry. Its state-of-the-art facilities and leading research has helped secure over $1 billion in federal investments from the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and create over 110,000 related jobs for New York City.

To give all of New York’s science parks the resources they need, Senator Gillibrand is cosponsoring the Building a Stronger America Act – legislation that would increase federal grants to $750,000 and guarantees of up to 80 percent on loans exceeding $10 million to build new science parks and expand existing ones. 

Additionally, Senator Gillibrand is calling for a permanent extension to the Research and Development tax credit to spur private investment in research and innovation to grow our high-tech sector for the long term.