Mayor de Blasio Announces That Five Times More High School Seniors Applied to CUNY for Free

June 27, 2017

36,336 students saved $65 as a result of application fee elimination – a total of more than $2 million across New York City families  

NEW YORK
—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, and CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken today announced that 36,336 students took advantage of the CUNY fee elimination when applying to college for the 2017-18 school year. In previous years, only 6,500 students received fee waivers annually. The expansion is only possible because of mayoral control of New York City schools, and the total savings for families across New York City amounts to $2,368,470.

The fee elimination was announced in September 2016 as part of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s College Access for All initiative, removing a barrier to college for low-income students. College Access for All is one of the initiatives in the Equity and Excellence for All agenda, which builds on record-high graduation and college enrollment rates as a result of mayoral control of New York City schools, and aims to ensure that by 2026, 80 percent of students graduate high school on time and two-thirds of graduates are college-ready.

“We believe nothing should stand in the way of a path to college and a meaningful career. That’s why we eliminated the CUNY application fee for low-income students to help remove a barrier standing in the way for many families,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As we work towards equity and excellence for all students, we’ll continue to remove barriers and add resources to ensure our students have every opportunity afforded to them.”

“As the first person in my family to attend college, I understand how important it is to remove barriers. Eliminating the CUNY fee for low-income students has made the path to college a little smoother for 36,000 more families, and it goes hand-in-hand with our College Access for All work to level the playing field, like taking students on college trips in middle school, providing more support in high school, and offering the SAT for free during the school day,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

“We knew when we announced this policy last fall that it would make a world of difference for the City’s many talented young people who are discouraged from applying to college each year due to the financial burden of application fees. The jump from just over 6,000 students applying to CUNY for free in years past to more than 36,000 in the first year of the expansion alone demonstrates a critical need being met. This is a great example of the impact we can make with smart policies that will help children all across this City reach their full potential in their education and in their lives,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery.

Mayor de Blasio is making the announcement at the graduation ceremony of The Urban Assembly Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, where he also met with seniors earlier this year and announced a 72.6 percent high school graduation rate – up from about 50 percent in the years before mayoral control of New York City schools. At The Urban Assembly Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, almost all of the 95 graduating students took advantage of the CUNY fee elimination, up from fewer than 20 students who received a fee waiver last year. The Urban Assembly Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice received new training and support to build a college-going culture this year through the College Access for All initiative, and will be able to take all its 7th-graders to visit college campuses next school year. The school will also add new AP courses through AP for All next school year.

Building on record-high graduation rates, record-high college enrollment rates, record-low dropout rates, and a high-quality pre-K seat for every New York City 4-year-old – all achievements under mayoral control – Equity and Excellence for All is creating a path from pre-K to college and careers for every child in every neighborhood in New York City.

In addition to eliminating the CUNY application fee for tens of thousands of additional students, through College Access for All, by 2018-19, every middle school student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus and every high school student will graduate with an individual college and career plan. The initiative has also made the SAT exam available free of charge during the school day for all high school juniors. College Access for All is also supporting new training and funding for 100 high schools to build a schoolwide college and career culture; funding for 28 additional high schools to hire alumni “bridge coaches” to ensure graduating seniors follow through on their plans to enroll in college in the fall; and funding for new Student Success Centers – college and career planning hubs – serving 15 schools at 4 campuses. 

From Pre-K for All to College Access for All, the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. Our schools are starting earlier – free, full-day, high-quality education for three-year-olds and four-year-olds through 3-K for All and Pre-K for All. They are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier – Universal Literacy so that every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All to improve elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensure that all 8th graders have access to algebra. They are offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All will give all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools. Efforts to create more diverse and inclusive classrooms through Diversity in New York City Public Schools, the City’s school diversity plan, are central to this pathway.

"More students are graduating and more of them are graduating college ready. We're building on this momentum through College Access for All -- improving the environment, exposure, and supports every student needs in order to pursue college and careers. Addressing financial barriers that stand in their way is critical to this effort. That's why it's exciting so many of our students took advantage of the CUNY application fee elimination, which will increase their options for success in the world beyond high school," said Phil Weinberg, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning.

“Almost all of our graduates took advantage of the elimination of the CUNY application fee for low-income students, and it goes hand-in-hand with the College Access for All support and funding we’ve received to make college more accessible for our students,” said Johanie Hernandez, principal at The Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice, the first Urban Assembly school. “These investments are about making college visible and real for every student at Bronx LGJ, from the time they join us in 6th grade to their high school graduation.”

“This has been a total game-changer for our students,” said Melanie Katz, principal at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School. “This year, over 400 students at FDR applied to CUNY for free; last year, it was just 79. Thinking as a former math teacher, that’s a 400 percent increase in opportunity, and it makes it so much more likely that my students have a trajectory to success once they graduate. My students and I are so grateful for this program, and the opportunity it provides.”

"Eliminating fees during the college application process has opened the doors for a record number of young talented students, thus removing barriers for so many, especially for low-income students and their families to give them an equitable opportunity to achieve and excel. I am proud of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for setting forward innovative solutions in our efforts to provide College Access for All," said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat.

“As a CUNY graduate, I know personally how important the CUNY system has been in providing a pathway for all New York City students, but especially our low-income students, to pursue higher education and a meaningful career path. By eliminating the application fee for low-income students, the City’s College Access for All initiative has made that pathway even more accessible for the over 36,000 applicants who were able to apply at no cost. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and Chancellor Farina on reducing the barriers to higher education for New York’s students,” said Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Chair of Assembly’s Higher Education Committee.

"By eliminating the CUNY application fee, we have made college more accessible for thousands of NYC students," said City Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. "Application fees should never get in the way of a young person's education. The decision to exempt qualifying students from such unnecessary and onerous fees was the right thing to do. This is yet another demonstration of this administration's commitment to providing all New Yorkers with a quality education. So much of this good work is achievable because of Mayoral Control of NYC public schools. Albany should take note and extend Mayoral Control now. Doing so will allow the city to continue its excellent work in our schools for years to come."


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