CUNY to Waive Application Fees for Low-Income and Homeless Students

With college application season getting under way, Mayor Bill de Blasio announces a new policy to make it easier for thousands of students to apply to the City University of New York (CUNY) schools. NY1 education reporter Lindsey Christ has more.

There are many reasons why applying to college seem overwhelming to some city high school students; reasons like not speaking English well, or being homelessness, or being the first in their families to consider college.

Another hurdle: application fees.

For many students, that will no longer be a problem.

The city announced Monday that it will waive the CUNY application fee for nearly 40,000 needy students.

"Once again, we're chipping away, chipping away, chipping away, at those things that stand in young people's way," said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery.

60 percent of city high school students who go to college, go to the City University system.

CUNY is the largest urban public university system in the nation. It costs $65 to apply.

"$65, to a lot of parents, is not a lot of money. To some parents, it's an unbelievable stumbling block to their best future for their students," Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said.

In the past, CUNY has offered fee waivers to 6,500 students each year.

Now, 37,500 students will qualify, including all public high school students from families receiving public assistance.

Students who are homeless, in foster care, or qualify for free or low-priced school lunches will also be eligible for the waivers.

The expanded program will cost the city $2.4 million a year. The mayor describes that as an investment.

"For many, many jobs in today's economy, a college education is necessary," de Blasio said. "And many kids who could make it, haven't had the opportunity. And that's what we're here to address."

A year ago, the de Blasio administration announced that the city will be pay the fees for high school juniors taking the SAT college entrance exam.

And beginning this year, all middle school students will be brought to college campuses to take tours.

The mayor announced this latest initiative at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, where nearly 80 percent of the 3,000 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. For some of them, there is now one less barrier blocking the path to college.

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