News10NBC In-Depth: NYS colleges and universities face ‘enrollment cliff,’ state report warns

Higher education enrollment is down

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Colleges and universities in New York State are facing an enrollment cliff, according to a report published in March by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“Demographic changes. Enrollment decline. High cost of college,” DiNapoli said when asked how colleges and universities are challenged.

In the fall of 2022, the report says there were 896,000 students in colleges and universities in New York, the lowest in 15 years and a drop of 73,000 since 2011. That’s a body for every seat in Highmark Stadium plus another 3,000 in the tailgate lots.

Berkeley Brean, News10NBC: “In your release, you talk about an enrollment cliff. How close are we to the edge?”

Thomas DiNapoli, NYS Comptroller: “It’s hard to tell. I think in terms of birth rate and demographic changes, probably more to come.”

In New York, Medaille University near Buffalo, Cazenovia College near Syracuse, Wells College in the Finger Lakes, and College of Saint Rose in Albany have closed or are closing. There are 164 private and SUNY schools in New York.

Berkeley Brean: “How many do you think we’ll have in 10 years?”

Thomas DiNapoli: “Wow, that is a tough question. Look, the College of Saint Rose just announced they’re closing and nobody saw that coming. I hope we won’t see more closures. Very hard to predict though what’s going to come down the road.”

Berkeley Brean: “What’s your college experience like so far?”

Paige Apps from Geneseo:

“Absolutely wonderful,” she said.

Apps just finished her freshman year at Canisius University in Buffalo.

The university’s website says the cost for a freshman in residence at Canisius, with tuition, room, board, and books, is about $50,000. With scholarships, a couple of jobs, and help from her parents, Apps thinks her out-of-pocket cost is about $11,000.

Berkeley Brean: “How do you think you and your family make ends meet? How do you afford that?”

Paige Apps: “A lot of loans, right now. It’s a lot of loans.”

While fewer college-aged students are a factor, the report agrees that cost is also a significant issue. Tuition feels out of reach to average families and then there’s debt. The report took the total amount of college debt in New York and divided it by the population, amounting to $5,800 per person in New York, more than Texas and Florida.

Berkeley Brean: “I can’t believe how expensive college and university have gotten over the last 20 years, do you get it?

Thomas DiNapoli: “No, but education never comes cheap. Ignorance is more expensive actually, but look, salaries go up, costs go up like everything else but it does create a barrier for many families and that’s a concern.”

A.I. assisted with the formatting of this story. Click here to see how WHEC News 10 uses A.I.