- New York City (NYC) is a college town. There are close to 120 institutions of higher learning within the city. Their graduates feed the city's industries, and the country's. A significant number are foreign students, some of whom return, educated, to their home countries. To the extent that they learn American values and absorb NYC culture, they represent emissaries of the United States and New York.
- In New York state, there are two public university systems: the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY).
- The State University of New York (SUNY) system was established in 1948 and has campuses throughout the state. A 16-member Board of Trustees governs the State University system. The Governor appoints 15 members, with the consent of the Senate, and the student body select one member. In the Fall of 2011, SUNY had a total enrollment of 467,991. SUNY's State-operated campuses derive almost 40% of their income from direct State appropriations; the balance is from Federal funds, alumni, tuition and fees, corporations, foundations, and other sources.
- The City University of New York (CUNY) system was established in 1961 and is located in the NYC area. There are 25 institutions which include: 13 senior colleges, 6 community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional
Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. Currently, CUNY serves 271,000 degree students and 270,000 continuing and professional education students. CUNY is governed by a 17-member Board of Trustees: 10 members appointed by the Mayor of NYC, also with the consent of the State Senate, a representative of the student body, and a representative of the faculty. Nearly 60% of the funding of CUNY's senior colleges is provided by State appropriations; the balance is derived from alumni funds, tuition and fees, and Federal and local
- The Independent Colleges and Universities are operated on a not-for-profit basis. Most are chartered (incorporated) by the Regents or by special acts of the State Legislature and have their own boards of trustees. Most of the independent institutions are members of a corporation called the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of the State of New York (CICU). The independent colleges derive less than one-half of one percent of their income from direct State aid.
- The Proprietary Colleges and Universities are profit making, private entities. Most specialize in the
fields of business and commerce. Most of these institutions are members of a corporation called the Association of Proprietary Colleges. The proprietary colleges receive no direct State aid.