CUNY’s decision to waive application fees will raise enrollment rates


Nick Youngson | Pix4Free

Anthony Choez

CUNY’s decision to waive application fees for New York City high school seniors starting fall 2023 should be commended for expanding access to education for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Making higher education a realistic option for low-income families will likely motivate more students to apply for college. The decision to waive the enrollment fee could be also seen as an attempt to offset the negative impact of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to raise CUNY tuition. 

“We are trying to motivate seniors who may still be undecided about applying to college to take this important step toward their future at no cost,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said in a statement. “We are also removing a financial roadblock that has deterred many students from applying.”

CUNY is the largest urban university in the United States, known for offering a good quality education to low-income students. Despite this, enrollment rates have dipped in recent years and proposed tuition hikes are sounding alarms for many students and families. 

Nearly 82% of CUNY first-time freshmen hail from New York City public high schools. A recent study by the Department of Education indicates that 71.9% of NYC public school students are economically disadvantaged. 

Application fees can often be a huge barrier for low-income families. An exorbitant application fee might put off a student from a school where they might’ve been accepted.   

Providing affordable and accessible education to low-income students is also crucial to the city’s economic growth. When students have access to education, they can enhance their skills and knowledge, which can lead to career opportunities and increased participation in the job market.

Baruch College has been ranked No. 1 for social mobility for six consecutive years, according to CollegeNET. By waiving enrollment fees, CUNY is promoting equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

CUNY’s plan to waive application fees for New York City high school seniors could have been even more impactful if implemented earlier. Still, it presents an advantage for those students who are planning to remain in the city and have not yet received decisions from other colleges and universities.

The decision to waive application fees comes amid Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to enact tuition hikes and slash CUNY funding.

CUNY’s decision to waive application fees could be seen as a means of counteracting the negative impact of the tuition hike proposal. Additionally, the decline in enrollment was primarily caused by the COVID-19 pandemic but will be prolonged by the rising costs of education.

The proposed tuition hike is a cause for concern for current and prospective students, and steps must be taken to ensure that education remains affordable for all.