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Governor Cuomo Announces $3.2 Million in Grants to Expand College Access for Low-Income Students

July 8, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the release of a $3.2 million College Access Innovation Grant application that will be used by organizations to increase college enrollment and completion among low-income students across the State.

“New York’s legacy is built on providing opportunities for all, and through this competitive grant we are continuing that reputation and investing in programs that work for the people,” Governor Cuomo said. “This grant allows us to implement successful strategies that help low-income students entering college achieve greater educational and economic opportunities for their future.”

The College Access Innovation Grant will support strategies for student success by:

  1. Connecting college-ready, low-income students to colleges and universities that match their academic achievement levels by providing customized information and assistance throughout the college application process. This allows for students to be matched to several colleges that best match their academic and financial levels.
  2. Removing barriers that low-income students face in accessing financial aid. Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the federal financial aid eligibility form, will be promoted by making available workshops and individual attention to guide prospective students through a potentially prohibitive process.
  3. Providing intensive college preparation, enrollment, and persistence through counseling, coaching and direction on the transition to college beginning in middle school through completion of the college freshman year.
  4. Reconnecting adult learners to higher education through services that increase their college completion rates, as well as reduce their time to completion.
  5. Establishing new and creative uses of technology to increase college opportunities for low-income students.

The average college-educated worker in New York State earns an estimated $25,000 more each year than somebody with only a high school diploma, and an estimated 53 percent of new jobs are projected to require at least some college education. Low-income students are 30 percent less likely to attend college after graduating from high school.

The College Access Innovation Grant is New York's fifth federal College Access Challenge Grant award, which is awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. The Grant is administered by the New York State Higher Education Service Corporation (HESC), which has successfully applied for the State's four previous awards that total $29 million. In the last two academic years, the funds have provided services to more than 124,000 New Yorkers.

Applicants can seek grants of up to $500,000 through this Request for Proposals. Applications are due August 13 and interested organizations can apply at the HESC website.

Elsa Magee, Acting President of HESC, said, “In New York State, fewer low-income high school students attend college, and successfully complete a degree, than their higher-income peers. To reverse these trends and create a system of opportunity and performance, the State is supporting high-quality, research-backed college access and success programs targeted to these students.”

Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, “Access to higher education is essential to economic mobility and a stronger middle class. We need to do all we can to ensure each and every person has the opportunity to access a quality education, and this federal investment will help hard-working New Yorkers looking for a brighter future. As the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for funding that helps higher education dreams become reality.”

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy said, “Every student who can get into a college, university, or trade school should be given the opportunity to earn a degree, regardless of their financial situation. This grant will help students and their families make higher education a reality.”

As a national leader for higher education, New York is the top destination for first-time freshmen nationwide and provides $1 billion annually in need-based grants through the State's Tuition Assistance Program.

About HESC

HESC is New York State's student financial aid agency that helps people pay for college and a national leader in providing need based grant and scholarship award money to college-going students. At HESC's core are programs like the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), numerous state scholarships, federal college access grants and a highly successful College Savings program. Through programs like these and through the guidance it provides to students, families and counselors, HESC puts college within the reach for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year.

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