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Chancellor Carranza Announces Record Number of New York City Students Applied to CUNY for Free

  • Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 Updated: Thu May 02, 2019

41,095 students saved $65 as a result of application fee elimination

NEW YORK – Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced that a record-high 41,095 New York City public school students applied to CUNY for free last school year, nearly 5,000 more than in the 2016-17 school year and over six times more than in the 2015-16 school year, when only 6,738 students applied to CUNY for free and before the City eliminated the CUNY application fee for low-income students. 

For the first time in September 2016, the City eliminated the CUNY application fee for low-income students as part of the College Access for All initiative. Now in its third year, College Access for All is reaching every middle and high school in New York City. In addition to eliminating the CUNY application fee for tens of thousands of students, the initiative has made the SAT exam available for free during the school day for all high school juniors – increasing the number of juniors who took the SAT by 51 percent in 2016-17. Starting this school year, every 7th grader in New York City has the opportunity to visit a college campus— approximately 70,000 7th grade students each school year.

“As a first-generation college student, I recognize and understand the inequities that limit our high school students’ abilities to apply to and succeed in college,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Creating an even playing field is at the heart of the College Access for All initiative, and eliminating the CUNY application fee has enabled a record-high number of students to apply to college and enroll.” 

“CUNY is proud to partner with the Department of Education on an initiative that promotes the University’s historic mission to increase access to quality higher education,” said Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz. “Waiving application fees shows that our doors are open to New York City public school graduates and we look forward to welcoming them in the fall.”

“Applying to college is no small feat, and the CUNY fee elimination removes a barrier that can be daunting for many students,” said Chief Academic Officer Linda Chen. “Through College Access for All, we are equipping every student with the resources and knowledge they need to graduate with a college and career plan.”

The elimination of the CUNY application fee is supporting New York City’s highest-ever postsecondary enrollment rate – 59 percent of New York City’s Class of 2017 (students entering 9th grade in Fall 2014) enrolled in a two- or four-year college, vocational program, or public service program after graduation, up 2 percentage points from the previous year and up 8 percentage points from the Class of 2013. A record-high 45,115 students in the Class of 2017 enrolled in college, up from 43,466 in the Class of 2016 and 40,641 in the Class of 2013.

Although 2018 postsecondary enrollment is not yet available, the elimination of the CUNY application fee drove the record enrollment for the Class of 2017. A record-high 26,145 students enrolled in a CUNY school, 836 more students than for the Class of 2016. According to 2017 U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, median usual weekly earnings nearly double with a Bachelor’s degree compared to a High School diploma – the 836 students enrolled could lead to an additional $385,396 in usual weekly earnings for those students combined.

Starting this school year, the College Access for All initiative is reaching every middle and high school, and providing schools with the resources to put students on the path to success in college and careers. In addition to the CUNY application fee elimination, SAT School Day, and middle-school college visits for all 7th-graders, all 517 middle schools are engaging students and families in schoolwide college and career culture. Every high school has resources and supports for students to graduate with a college and career plan. More students will be equipped in knowing how to apply to and pay for college, prepare for the SATs, and explore and select college and career pathways.

“CUNY’s central mission is making excellent higher education accessible to all. For too many low-income students, application fees got in the way,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m glad the City acted to remove this barrier, and the fact that applications are soaring shows us that action was warranted.”

“I applaud CUNY and the New York City Department of Education's efforts to make college more accessible and congratulate them on their success," said Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee. "I look forward to even more opportunities for our students in the future."

“We cannot allow systemic inequities to come between students and opportunities to further their education,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Education. “Waiving CUNY application fees removes barriers and helps our city’s students continue to pursue their academic goals.”

College Access for All is part of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda. Together, 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, including Equity & Excellence for All: Diversity in New York City Public Schools, are central to this pathway.



Contact:  Chancellor’s Press Office (212) 374-5141