SUNY Receives 20% Increase in Funding to SUNY Educational Opportunity Program to Expand Access and Resources for Students from Economically-Disadvantaged Communities

April 16, 2021

First New Investment in Five Years for the Program; SUNY Secured $6.4 Million in the 2022 FY State Budget, the Single Largest Increase in the Program’s Recent History

Additional Operating Funding Will Help Expand EOP to Additional SUNY Campuses and Increase Student Resources to Help Them Succeed in Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees, as well as Pursue Doctoral Programs

Expanding Opportunity Programs was the First Recommendation of SUNY’s Recently Released 25-Point Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan

SUNY Celebrates This Announcement with thisVideo Here; Photos from Chancellor Malatras’ and State Legislators’ Visit to Westchester Community College are Here

View the full press conference here

Valhalla, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced today that SUNY received a 20 percent increase in funding for the longstanding Educational Opportunity Program, which helps students with potential and from economically-disadvantaged communities succeed in graduating from college. The first new investment in EOP in the last five years, SUNY secured $6.4 million in the 2022 fiscal year state budget, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers, especially Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker of the New York State Assembly Carl Heastie. It is the single largest increase in the program’s recent history.

EOP was created in 1967 by Assembly Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve and his chief of staff Norman R. McConney, Jr. The program has been credited as being one of the country's most successful college access programs, and is a key academic program within the SUNY system to broaden access to a higher education for more students. Many EOP students are the first in their families to attend college. This new funding will open the door to hundreds, if not thousands, of additional EOP students.

The additional operating revenue will help expand EOP to more SUNY campuses and increase student resources to help EOP students succeed in associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. It would also cover additional funding to implement Chancellor Malatras’ first-ever statewide initiative to help more EOP students get into SUNY’s medical universities, announced earlier this year. The initiative will include academic support, mentorship, clinical exposure, assistance with MCAT preparation, academic coaching, and workshops to prepare students for success in their undergraduate programs, medical school pursuits, and the medical professions.

Chancellor Malatras made the announcement at Westchester Community College, where he was joined by Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and New York State Senator Shelley Mayer, as well as Westchester Community College President Belinda Miles, Purchase College President Milagros Peña, and current EOP staff and students.

"EOP is one of our most successful programs within SUNY to provide access and success for a more equitable playing field for students who need it most—those who haven’t been afforded the academic or financial support to even think college was a possibility. And for SUNY, it was the first priority from our recently announced Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 25-point action plan to expand this program for more students and into other academic opportunities within our medical schools," said Chancellor Malatras. "The program has been a mainstay at SUNY because of the significant funding we receive from New York State, and I am thankful to the Governor, Majority Leader, Speaker, and Legislature for their support. We were thrilled to be able to celebrate this historic investment with Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Senator Shelley Mayer, and Westchester County Community College and SUNY Purchase leadership and students. When I hear the stories from our EOP students, I continue to be amazed by where they came from and how much they have achieved for themselves on our SUNY campuses, and this is a tremendous point of pride for all of us here."

Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins said, "In this year's budget, I was proud to fight for historic investments in New York State's higher education system totaling $7.7 billion. This includes a 20 percent increase in funding for educational opportunity programs that provide needed support to students to help them access and be successful in receiving a higher education. I am pleased to join SUNY Chancellor, Dr. Jim Malatras, to celebrate these victories for students at Westchester Community College and SUNY Purchase, and throughout the State University of New York system."

Speaker Heastie said, "The Assembly Majority knows that education is the great equalizer and that is why we have always fought to reduce barriers to education. These opportunity programs are more critical than ever as families struggle to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This historic investment will allow more students to take advantage of these programs and ensure that every New Yorker has the opportunity to access the higher education needed to thrive in the workforce and climb the economic ladder."

Senator Mayer said, "I am so pleased our adopted budget makes essential investments in our public colleges and universities, especially our Educational Opportunity Program. From Yonkers to Port Chester and all across my district, parents and students chose SUNY schools and especially WCC because they provide indispensable pathways to the middle class. EOP ensures our most disadvantaged families have access to that pathway. These investments are the foundation of our recovery from the pandemic, and I appreciate the leadership of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie for prioritizing them."

Westchester Community College President Miles said, "More than 50 years after its creation, the Educational Opportunity Program purpose of overcoming economic and social barriers that prevent minorities and underrepresented students from attaining a college education remains relevant. We are grateful for our Westchester County legislators and their peers for working with the executive office and SUNY on behalf of our students in need. EOP and similar opportunity programs provide a vital lifeline for so many members of our community who have tremendous potential but very limited means. Investing in their talent is a critical component of New York State’s recovery."

Purchase College President Peña said, "The EOP program is at the heart of our mission as a public college, to provide access to a high quality and affordable education. Throughout the decades, our EOP students have thrived thanks to the extraordinary support and mentorship that is central to the program. Over and over, we have seen students with great potential experience significant achievements through the EOP program and go on to rewarding careers and personal fulfillment. We’re grateful for the additional support and expansion of this important program, which will make a significant difference in the lives of many students."

Westchester Community College and EOP student Jasmin Lopez, "My experience with EOP is that it has been a huge part of my life and is like a family to me—I have had the opportunity to work with so many individuals who have been my biggest supporters and provided me with so much guidance. I have been through a lot, and over the past year even got sick with COVID-19, which made me want to stop school. My support system through EOP told me to keep at it and that they would help me every step of the way so I could continue my studies at Westchester Community College, with the hopes of someday working in a field where I can help others. I want to thank everyone for this opportunity—us EOP students wouldn’t be here today without your guidance."

Westchester Community College and EOP student Tamisis Mejia said, "One of my favorite quotes is "Be the change that you want to see in the world," and through EOP we receive the opportunities to achieve our goals and leave an impact on the world. So many people aren’t able to receive the education they need to help their families or other people—as a first-generation college student, my parents came from the Dominican Republic and gave up everything so I could attend college. I unfortunately lost my father to COVID-19 this past year, and my EOP support system at Westchester Community College were instrumental in helping me through this tough time. Thank you to everyone here and behind the scenes helping students like me attain an education, which is so important to succeed."

Each year, EOP receives applications from more than 12,000 eligible students for 3,000 spaces. The additional funding makes it possible to increase the program to include hundreds of additional eligible students with academic potential.

Since its inception in 1967, the EOP has provided access, academic support, and supplemental financial assistance to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In its 53-year history, the EOP has served more than 76,000 students.

In the current academic year, SUNY had more than 10,000 EOP students on 50 SUNY campuses, including all baccalaureate-degree-granting colleges and universities. EOP students often outperform their peers, with 74 percent of them graduating with a baccalaureate degree within six years.

SUNY graduates more than 11,000 health professionals every year, including one of every three medical school graduates, nearly one of every three nursing graduates, and one of every four dentists in the state. Enrollment for the 2020-2021 academic year is at 2,740 students. SUNY announced in December that it has received a dramatic increase in applications to its medical programs.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. As of Fall 2019, more than 415,500 students were enrolled in a degree-granting program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide exceeded $1.7 billion in fiscal year 2019, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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