For the nearly 40,000 low-income students who apply to CUNY colleges each year, the $65 application fee is just another obstacle in the path to higher education. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a new policy that would waive the fee for all low-income students, allowing them to apply to CUNY without having to worry about an additional financial burden.
In past years, CUNY has offered fee waivers to a limited number of low-income applicants, but de Blasio’s latest policy proves that progress is being made in the fight for the educational rights of all disadvantaged students.
Now, homeless students, students who are in foster care and students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches will face one less roadblock in attending the largest urban public university in the country.
The initiative, which comes as a part of de Blasio’s Equity and Excellence program, will cost the city $2.4 million. This is a small price to pay for the betterment of the lives of an estimated 37,000 students per year. This number accounts for approximately 60 percent of New York City’s high school students.
The initiative will have a ripple effect as well, benefitting the city’s many high schools and communities that were forced to help low-income high school seniors pay the application fee. In November 2015, a high school in Brownsville started an online crowdfunding campaign in order to provide assistance to its graduating seniors who could not afford college application fees.
Donations happened to surpass the campaign’s $10,000 goal. It should not, however, be the job of the community to finance something as inconsequential as an application fee.
Keeping this in mind, CUNY should be seen as a shining example throughout the realm of public higher education. De Blasio is investing in not only the present success of New York City’s young adults, but the future success of the city as well.
If not for the initiative, a large amount of professional talent would be lost for good. Let other public university systems across the country who still impose an application fee follow in the footsteps of the CUNY system. Let them see the droves of adult professionals produced from CUNY who otherwise would not have been given the chance in years prior.
If the most populated city in the world can remove an obstacle for its low-income students, there is no reason that other cities cannot do the same.