Governor Hochul Announces Impact of $10 Million Annual Investment to Increase Support for SUNY Students with Disabilities

January 11, 2024

Funding Allocated to SUNY’s State-Operated Campuses Through This Year’s 

Historic $163 Million Operating Increase

Fact Sheet Outlining Campus Initiatives Available Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced how State University of New York campuses are investing nearly $10 million in annual State funding to support students identifying with disabilities. The funding was secured through this year’s historic $163 million increase in direct operating aid to SUNY’s State-operated campuses.

"As we champion inclusivity, we are marking a milestone in our commitment to ensuring every student has the opportunity to thrive in New York and at SUNY," Governor Hochul said. "This historic funding underscores our dedication to creating an educational environment where everyone can pursue their dreams and achieve success. Together, we're building a future where diversity is not just acknowledged but celebrated, and where the potential of every individual is recognized and nurtured."

New York State Chief Disability Officer Kim Hill Ridley said, "Providing our college students with disabilities with all of the tools they need to succeed is necessary for them to become our well-qualified employees of tomorrow. Considering that the employment rate of people with disabilities is so far below that of their non-disabled peers, this investment goes hand in hand with all of the other initiatives that Governor Hochul is launching in the effort to significantly improve the employment rate of New York’s disability community. This is a significant victory!"

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. visited SUNY College of Optometry, where he met with current and prospective students and researchers at the Clinical Vision Research Center. SUNY Optometry plans to utilize its $250,000 in funding to support students with disabilities by establishing a Center for Teaching and Learning, which will house the Office of Disability/Accessibility Services. Through the Center, SUNY Optometry will hire a learning specialist to guide students with disabilities in developing strategies to best support their specific learning profiles and assist faculty in adopting inclusive teaching approaches for such students.

SUNY Chancellor King said, "SUNY is committed to student success and to diversity, equity, and inclusion—which includes ensuring our campuses are welcoming and supportive environments for students with disabilities. Thanks to the historic investment by Governor Hochul and the Legislature in SUNY’s operating budget for 2023-24, SUNY is investing first-ever sustainable funding of nearly $10 million per year to support State-operated campuses in increasing support for students with disabilities by providing greater course accessibility, faculty professional development, and transition help from high school to college to careers."

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said, "Students at SUNY’s state operated campuses deserve the same opportunities to learn, grow and better their future prospects as every other student. This funding will go a long way in ensuring those living with disabilities have access to the same fulfilling educational experience as their peers. This funding is for the more than 30,000 SUNY students who will benefit from it."

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, "SUNY continues to light the path forward on innovative investments that centers equity on our campuses across New York State. "This $10 million investment will mitigate barriers and support students with disabilities, assist in purchasing new accessibility technology and equipment, provide new physical space, and help students transition from high school to college more seamlessly. Our $163 million increase in operating aid secured last year is paying dividends for New York’s students and campuses, and I commend Chancellor John King for his vision of a SUNY where every student has the opportunity to succeed and complete their dream of attaining a higher education."

SUNY College of Optometry President David A. Heath said, "We greatly appreciate the new incremental funds being provided to the College. These funds allow us to not only expand our disability and mental health services, but to enhance all of our students' sense of wellbeing and ability to maximize their learning. Ultimately, this will help them strengthen the healthcare experience they provide to the communities they serve."

Other SUNY campuses are utilizing their portion of the nearly $10 million state investment to expand services for students identifying with disabilities in a variety of ways, including:

  • All 29 State-operated campuses will hire staff to mitigate barriers and support students with disabilities, which includes disability services coordinators, learning specialists, physical accessibility specialists, and electronic information technology (EIT) accessibility officers. 
  • At least 25 campuses will purchase new accessibility technology and equipment for student and faculty use to ensure students can access course digital and in-person course content. 
  • At least 24 campuses will invest in improvements to the physical space of the campus to be more accessible for students with disabilities. 
  • At least 21 campuses will provide professional development to faculty on topics such as supporting students with disabilities. 
  • At least 8 programs are developing summer transition programs to help support students with disabilities transition from high school to the demands of college. 
  • At least 11 campuses are using the funds to support other innovative student focused supports for students with disabilities. 

A fact sheet outlining campus initiatives is available here.

According to data reported to the New York State Education Department, more than 30,000 SUNY students reported having a disability, which also means that 39% of college students identifying with disabilities in the state attend a SUNY institution. Yet according to an analysis from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), only 37% of college students who had a disability in college reported it while in college. NCES found that students who reported a disability were more likely to be placed in remedial courses and were more likely to utilize academic services.  

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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