SUNY releases new ‘Big Dreams, Small Step’ program to close college equity gaps for high school seniors

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced a new SUNY for All program—Big Dreams, Small Step—to close the college equity gap for high school students. The new program creates an outreach campaign to high school students who could benefit the most from a college degree.

“SUNY was created to deliver an affordable high-quality education for all New Yorkers, and if students aren’t coming to us, we need to be where they are to make sure they get that fair shot at college,” said Chancellor Malatras. “And, increasingly, college is necessary for the post-COVID jobs ahead. It is our moral obligation to close persistent equity gaps in education by making sure New York’s students aren’t left behind when there is tremendous financial and academic support from New York State and SUNY to help them earn that degree.”

Before the pandemic, a student from a low-income household had only a 10% chance of earning a college degree, while students from higher income households had a 50% chance. In addition, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, first-time enrollment decreased 13% year over year for the fall 2020 with the steepest declines amongst Black (18.7%), Hispanic (19.9%), and Native American (23.2%) students. This leads SUNY to believe that more students from economically disadvantaged households will continue to be at a disadvantage without a college degree.

The SUNY for All program will focus on locations where applications to SUNY campuses are down the most, particularly in the Hudson Valley and New York City areas where decreases are on average 25-30%, and 40-45%, respectively.

Starting Feb. 10, high school seniors may visit www.suny.edu/start/ to apply to one of SUNY’s 64 campuses, including online degree options. The new campaign will include additional resources for guidance counselors and students, including one-on-one application support and guidance for first generation, low income, and under-represented high school students within New York’s urban areas. SUNY will also partner with youth bureaus, NYS public libraries, NYS Counselor Association, and other state and county agencies, as well as reach out to high school seniors directly.

The initiative also includes:

  • Designated “SUNY Application Week” (Feb. 15-19), featuring individual appointments and personal support for the SUNY application (including assistance on how to apply to SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program)
  • SUNY’s ‘personalized support service’ expansion to help applicants complete an application fee waiver and secure the endorsement of their high school counselor remotely
  • Enhanced ‘College Advisor of the Day’ programming, where high school students can book a focused, one-on-one conversation about SUNY’s offerings and the application process
  • Provide immediate, easy-to-follow guidance on applying to SUNY and where to get help

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