Some New York college-bound public school students will receive a huge break, beginning this year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and representatives of CUNY visited Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) High School, 5800 20th Avenue, to announce that low-income public high school students won’t have to pay the $65 application fee when they apply to CUNY. The announcement, made on Monday, September 26, will allow an estimated 37,500 high school seniors to apply to up to six CUNY schools without having to shell out any money.
“I can tell you for families all over this city that are struggling to make ends meet, application fees for college are a big challenge, especially if you have more than one child,” said de Blasio during the conference. “We have to go head on and take another burden off hardworking New Yorkers and eliminate that application fee. That’s something we knew would make a difference and encourage kids to apply to CUNY and make it easier for them.”
The mayor stressed the significance of the move. “College is not supposed to be a privilege or something for those that are born into well-off families,” he stressed. “Part of the American dream is that anyone could make it to college. That’s something we have to reinforce through action.”
Fariña said that the fee has often stopped teens from pursuing higher education. “Sixty five dollars is not a lot of money for some families, but it’s an unbelievable stumbling block for many students. I’m proud to be a part of this,” she said, adding that the initiative is a personal one for her. “I was the first in my family to go to college and I almost didn’t make it there. After my freshman year of high school, I was told I wasn’t college material and that I was just not good enough. A teacher took a step to ask me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and took me under her wing.”
“A college degree never meant more for our kids’ future prospects,” said Vita Rabinowitz, executive vice chancellor of CUNY. “Ensuring a college education is available to every New Yorker of every background or economic circumstance is at the heart of the CUNY mission.”
Before the conference, de Blasio and Farina went to a a college prep class to talk to the students and ask them about their goals. “In my class that the mayor visited, I’m learning step by step what I need to know for college,” said FDR student Olashi Ogunye. “I’m excited that the mayor has come here today to announce a plan to make one step towards college applications a little more accessible.”