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SUNY Cortland students in class
Program History

Program History

The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) combines access, academic support and supplemental financial assistance to make higher education possible for students who have the potential to succeed at a SUNY college, despite poor preparation and limited financial resources.

Now in operation for 50 years, EOP had its origins in the late 1960's, during the Rockefeller Administration. The Master Plan of the State University for 1964 set forth a long-range commitment that "every student capable of completing a program of higher education should have the opportunity to do so." In 1967, then first-year Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve of Buffalo gave further force to the principles of access and opportunity by developing the appropriation bill that gave birth to the Educational Opportunity Program.

EOP was modeled on the Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) program instituted by Percy Sutton at The City University of New York during the prior year. The first unit, of what would become a university-wide opportunity program, enrolled 249 students at the State University College at Buffalo. In the following year, Assemblyman Eve was able to obtain sufficient funding to permit expansion to 10 campuses. By the 1970-71 academic year, 30 campuses had enrolled more than 4,600 opportunity students. Education Law § 6452 formally established the provisions of SEEK at the City University, EOP at SUNY and the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) at the independent colleges and universities in New York.

EOP now exists on 48 SUNY campuses. Educational Opportunity Program graduates number more than 70,000. Most alumni continue to live in New York, enriching its economic and social fabric by working as physicians, teachers, scientists, engineers, attorneys, artists, entrepreneurs and public servants. And, many have returned to SUNY to serve as EOP administrators and counselors who provide support to another generation of opportunity students.

In 2018, SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program celebrated five decades of success.

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