State of the State Proposal Includes Plan to Automatically Admit High Achieving Students from Top 10 Percent of New York High School Classes to SUNY and CUNY Campuses.

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced initiatives to increase access to higher education as part of her 2024 State of the State address. Governor Hochul is launching a plan to offer direct admission to high achieving students from the top 10 percent of New York high school classes to State University of New York and City University of New York campuses. Additionally, the Governor will propose legislation requiring school districts to ensure every high school senior completes the FAFSA. Governor Hochul also announced a plan for SUNY and CUNY to ensure all SNAP eligible students are aware of available benefits to address food insecurity among students. At the Governor’s direction, SUNY and CUNY must also provide information about voter registration and how to vote at various times, such in residence packets and on student portals, and advise students on voter registration deadlines to increase voter participation among college students. 


“Access to higher education has the potential to transform the lives of young New Yorkers and change the trajectory of a student’s life,” Governor Hochul said. “Through these bold initiatives, we are taking critical steps toward ensuring every New York student can continue their education, build their professional career, and pursue their dreams.”  


Making Higher Education More Accessible and Affordable  

To ensure that high-achieving students have a home at New York’s world-class institutions, Governor Hochul is launching an ambitious plan to offer high-achieving students from the top 10 percent of graduating high schoolers direct admission to SUNY and CUNY institutions. 


Over the next year, SUNY will develop a direct admissions program that can reach across the state and help more students achieve their potential. Similarly, CUNY will work to expand its existing direct admissions program to further its mission of extending opportunity to students of all backgrounds. These steps will both increase equity for students and retain the best and brightest within New York State and its higher education institutions, ultimately creating an even more skilled workforce in the state.   


Expanding Access to Financial Aid 

Governor Hochul will propose legislation to require school districts to ensure every high school senior completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the New York State Dream Act Application. Students who choose not to fill out an application must sign a waiver form indicating that they are aware of the available financial aid, but choose not to pursue it.  


The FAFSA is an important part of the college application process and the college experience, maximizing access to financial aid to support post-secondary educational costs including tuition, fees, books, room, and board. This initiative will ensure that every New York student has access to the full breadth of their financial aid options and opportunities for future success.  


Supporting Food Insecure Students  

At the Governor’s direction, SUNY and CUNY will expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach on their campuses so that all students can take full advantage of support they are eligible for. According to a national survey from 2019, 39 percent of students at two-year colleges and 29 percent of students at four-year colleges faced food insecurity. To address this issue, SUNY and CUNY have committed to outreach and support to improve SNAP participation among eligible students. Expanding these efforts will help reduce food insecurity and help ensure every student has the resources needed to pursue a higher education.  


Ensuring College Students Can Exercise Their Right to Vote  

New York State’s college student voter participation rate was lower in 2020 than the national average at 62.5 percent. To boost civic participation on college campuses, Governor Hochul will coordinate with SUNY and CUNY to ensure schools actively include information about how to vote and how students can change their voter registration address, such as in-residence packets and on student portals. SUNY and CUNY will also advise the students on voter registration deadlines to increase voter participation among college students. Additionally, the Governor is encouraging all other colleges in the state to participate in nonpartisan get-out-the-vote messaging, which could focus on a variety of barriers to student voting, including change of address issues.  


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