In the past, the City University of New York has offered to waive its $65 application fee for only the most needy of students. However, that still left the application fee as a substantial barrier for many other students who didn’t meet CUNY’s formerly stringent guidelines.
This year, CUNY will waive application fees for all students in New York City public schools who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, who are homeless or in foster care, and whose family lives in subsidized housing or receives public assistance. This expanded fee waiver also applies to undocumented students in those categories.
“I want to remind you that $65 is a lot of money for many families in New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Sixty-five dollars matters. So for our young people and their families, knowing that that fee is eliminated just clears the way.”
This is just one part of New York City’s effort to increase access to college for city students. City schools will also offer the SAT free of charge to all public school juniors, and will schedule the test on weekdays. This will eliminate cost and transportation barriers for many low-income students.
The city is also scheduling trips to local colleges for middle school students, in hopes that this will get them inspired to pursue higher education. When this inspiration comes at an earlier age, it leaves more time for students to make sure their middle and high school education is adequate for college success.
We hope that other school districts will follow New York City’s lead and strive to increase college and trade school access for their lower-income students. We believe all youth, no matter what their family’s socioeconomic status, deserve an opportunity to pursue education beyond high school. That means not just waiving application and SAT fees, but ensuring that students are adequately prepared to handle the rigors of higher education.