CUNY, SUNY, some private New York colleges to waive application fees in October

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Dive Brief:

  • More than 120 public and private colleges in New York have banded together to waive application fees throughout October, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday.
  • All colleges in the state’s two public higher education systems — the State University of New York and the City University of New York — and over 40 private colleges are participating in the initiative.
  • SUNY is waiving application fees from Oct. 16 to Oct. 29. CUNY is scrapping fees all month for high school seniors attending New York City Public Schools, and between Oct. 16 and Oct. 31 for state residents applying as first-year students.

Dive Brief:

The move is part of the New York State College Application Month, which aims to encourage high school students to apply for college early. The initiative focuses on students from low-income families, those who would be the first in their families to attend college, and those who might not otherwise enroll in postsecondary education.

“Removing financial barriers enables students who may not have considered completing an application due to financial constraints to take the first steps of their educational journey,” Hochul said in a statement Thursday.

New York colleges aren’t the only institutions that are waiving fees during October. More than 100 colleges in North Carolina are eliminating application fees from Oct. 16-20, though some institutions are only offering waivers for certain applicants, like state residents. And students can apply for free to any of the 33 colleges in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system during the whole month.

For New York, the move marks the first time SUNY, CUNY and private colleges have joined to waive application fees during October. Dates of fee waivers at private institutions vary.

The initiative comes as both of New York’s public systems have been struggling with enrollment.

SUNY’s enrollment has steadily dropped to around 364,000 students in fall 2022, down about 21% compared to the prior decade. Meanwhile, CUNY had almost 226,000 students last fall, representing a roughly 16% decline in enrollment over the past 10 years.

Both systems have been attempting to attract more students.

In June, Hochul announced the SUNY system was sending letters to around 125,000 graduating high school students in the state to let them know they’d been automatically accepted to their local community colleges for the fall term.

And in May, CUNY unveiled plans to send letters to high school seniors in public schools directing them to the system’s online application and financial aid information.

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