Beginning this week, the city is paying for tens of thousands of students to take the SAT, the high-stakes college entrance exam. NY1 Education Reporter Lindsey Christ has the story.
Victoria Guerrero, a senior at Queens Vocational and Technical High School, is headed to college in the fall, but she says taking the SAT was a challenge.
"It was a long process just to get together a bunch of paperwork in order to get a fee waiver, and the fee waiver took forever," Guerrero said.
"And then on top of that, I had to go to my grandmother's house and sign up online on the computer, and from there I had to take off from work, in advance, because it was a Saturday and I only work Saturdays," she added."
Those are all problems the de Blasio Administration wants to help students avoid. Wednesday, 70,000 11th graders can take the SAT for free.
"For generations, there were young people that got the message, from the moment they got to high school, that college was for them, it was inevitable," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "There were a whole lot of other kids got the message, 'There's no way you are going to college.' That doesn't create a more equal society."
Monday, the mayor spoke with high school juniors preparing to take the test.
The SAT charges $45 to take the test, which is an impediment to many students.
Waivers are available, but applying for one can be daunting.
So, the city will spend $2.5 million a year for 11th graders to take it for free.
To boost participation further, the test will be administered during a school day, instead of on a Saturday.
"You don't have to go to the SAT test, it comes to you now," de Blasio said Monday to the juniors.
Last year, 52 percent of 11th graders in city public schools took the SAT, and that number has risen over the past two years as the city has piloted the free SAT school day in dozens of schools.
Chancellor Carmen Fariña told students that she barely managed to take the SAT herself. "I didn't sign up for an SAT, because I didn't know that that's what you had to do," Fariña said.
"My family had never gone to college," she continued. "I had no idea about any of this, and finally a teacher tapped me and said, 'Are you taking the SATs on Saturday?' And I said, 'What? What am I missing?'"
Some 11th graders benefitting from the free-test program say no one in their families has gone to college, either.
"I'm really happy because I'm going to be the first one," one student said.