Governor Hochul Launches Efforts to Help New York Students Access Financial Aid

April 2, 2024

From the office of Governor Hochul

Governor Hochul Issues a Proclamation Designating April as Financial Aid Awareness Month to Highlight Financial Aid Opportunities for New York Students and the Importance of Completing the FAFSA

Announces Petrie Foundation Has Awarded CUNY $1 Million to Launch New CUNY Financial Aid Support Team to Help 100,000 New York City Students Access Available Aid

Launches 2024 New York State STEM Incentive Program to Support SUNY or CUNY Students Pursuing a STEM Degree; Application Opens April 3

Initiatives Follow Governor Hochul’s 2024 State of the State Announcement to Make FAFSA Completion Universal in New York

Governor Kathy Hochul today issued a proclamation declaring April 2024 as Financial Aid Awareness Month in New York State to help inform students and families of the importance of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the many financial aid options available to them. Governor Hochul also announced that the Petrie Foundation has awarded the City University of New York $1 million to launch CUNY Financial Aid Support Team (FAST) to help 100,000 students complete the FAFSA. The program will run through September 2024. Additionally, Governor Hochul is launching the 2024 New York STEM incentive program on April 3, which will offer tuition awards to New York State students at State University of New York or City University of New York campuses pursuing a degree in an approved Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics field of study. Applicants must also agree to live and work in New York State for five years after graduation.

"For New Yorkers who want to pursue higher education, financial aid is a critical tool that can help transform their dreams into a reality," Governor Hochul said. "Far too often, students and families miss out on the full scope of financial aid opportunities available to them, causing many to miss out on this critical support. We’re bridging the information gap and providing students with the resources they need to complete their FAFSA application and unlock financial aid opportunities that can support their higher education journey."

To kick off Financial Aid Awareness Month, Governor Hochul is announcing several initiatives in New York State to help students pursue a higher education degree. The Governor’s efforts include:

  • Encouraging New York State high school seniors to complete their FAFSA application and take full advantage of financial aid programs by sending letters to students across the state highlighting the resources available to them.
  • Announcing the Petrie Foundation has awarded CUNY $1 million to launch FAST, a new FAFSA completion program in partnership with New York City Public Schools and other institutional partners to target 100,000 at-risk students through September 2024. 
  • Launching the 2024 New York State STEM Incentive Program application on April 3 to support New York State students pursuing a STEM degree at any SUNY or CUNY campus. Applicants must also agree to live and work in New York State for five years after graduation. More details available here.
  • Highlighting events across New York State to help students and families navigate the financial aid process. Full list of events available here.

Since taking office, Governor Hochul has remained committed to expanded access to financial aid, including announcing a 2024 State of the State initiative to make FAFSA completion universal in New York State. Recent data from the National College Attainment Network revealing that over $225 million in Federal Pell Grant funding went unclaimed in New York State in 2023. The FAFSA is the first step in obtaining federal aid, including the federal Pell Grant, work-study, and low-cost loan programs, as well as institutional-based aid awarded by many colleges and universities. Students, parents and counselors can access more information on the FAFSA, as well as a number of other resources at FAFSA Ready

During the month of April, Governor Hochul announced that the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), SUNY, CUNY and academic and community organizations in New York will host multiple events to help students and their families navigate the financial aid processes and complete the FAFSA and TAP applications. Events include information sessions on common errors students make when filling out financial aid applications, virtual drop in opportunities to connect with HESC experts, and discussions about scholarship opportunities for students. A full schedule of events can be found here.

In October 2023, SUNY launched the FAFSA Completion Corps to help prospective students complete the new federal application for college financial aid. SUNY received a nearly $300,000 grant from AmeriCorps to launch the initiative, which began with 48 students across six SUNY campuses. The positions are funded through federal work-study or other financial resources. Additionally, at the end of the AmeriCorps service term, students will receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which may be used to repay qualified loans and to pay current educational expenses at eligible institutions of higher education and training programs.

The FAFSA links directly to the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application, so both can be completed at the same time. Students who do not qualify to complete the FAFSA are encouraged to complete the New York State Dream Act application to determine eligibility to apply for NYS financial aid.

Higher Education Services Corporation President Dr. Guillermo Linares said, "I join Governor Hochul in emphasizing the significance of completing the FAFSA to access various federal, state, and institutional student aid programs. The FAFSA serves as a gateway not just to federal aid but also to state aid, such as the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Completing it could be the defining factor in a student's ability to attend college."

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, "Completing the FAFSA or the NYS Dream Act application is the only way for students and their families to discover what financial aid is available to them to make college possible, and to secure that aid. Our team at SUNY is proud to join Governor Hochul in doing all we can to ensure students know about and get all the financial aid they are eligible for, from creating the SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps to conducting online webinars and holding Financial Aid Days across our campuses, and joining Governor Hochul in working to make FAFSA completion universal for high schools seniors."

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said, "CUNY is working closely with New York State to help thousands of prospective and current students who have been impacted by the chaotic rollout of the revised FAFSA. With the generous support of the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, we are committed to fully assisting those at risk of delaying or interrupting their education because they are unable to make informed choices about the true cost of college. We thank Governor Hochul for leading this proactive drive to ensure that all students receive the financial aid they need to begin college or return to campuses in September."

State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, "Financial aid, including FAFSA, is essential for all young New Yorkers as they navigate their educational journey, regardless of their college plans. Whether pursuing higher education or enrolled in a career and technical education program, accessing financial assistance is crucial for opening doors to opportunities and ensuring that every student can pursue their dreams without being held back by financial constraints. I strongly urge all New York students and families to research the financial programs and resources that are at their disposal."

Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities President Lola W. Brabham said, "The Independent Sector of Higher Education is proud to join Governor Hochul, HESC, and our colleagues in the public sector to ensure students can access every dollar they are eligible for by helping them to complete the FAFSA." She added, "FAFSA is a crucial tool in helping New York’s students and their families access the student aid needed to achieve the dream of earning a college degree."

New York's Association of Private Colleges President Donna Stelling-Gurnett said, "The Association of Private Colleges (APC) is incredibly proud to join Governor Hochul and HESC leaders in highlighting April as Financial Aid Awareness Month. FAFSA is an important first step to college access, and the member colleges of APC and our partners in higher education stand ready to provide the support necessary to help students complete their FAFSA successfully."

Petrie Foundation Executive Director Cass Conrad said, "The Petrie Foundation is proud to support this effort to help young people and families navigate the new financial aid application. We are grateful to the Governor and CUNY for their dedication to ensuring that students in New York get the financial aid they deserve."

CUNY and Petrie Foundation FAFSA Partnership

With $1 million in funding from the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, CUNY will join forces with the New York City Public Schools (NYCPS) and key institutional partners like the New York and Queens public library systems to reach 100,000 high school seniors and current CUNY students and help them complete the FAFSA, which is required for any student to receive financial aid. The initiative, called CUNY Financial Aid Support Team, or FAST, will run through the end of September 2024 and offer personalized assistance from financial aid counselors and trained college student-coaches. The donation is the latest gift to CUNY by the Petrie Foundation, which has provided more than $21 million since 2019 to help more students thrive and succeed across CUNY campuses.

New York State STEM Incentive Program

The New York State STEM Incentive Program aims to encourage and support New York State students pursuing approved science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees in preparation for careers in STEM fields in NYS. The program offers an annual tuition award to eligible students who study an approved two- or four-year STEM degree program at any SUNY or CUNY college or university and agree to live in NYS and work in a STEM field in NYS for five years after graduation.

For more details on the program and how to apply, visit the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation STEM webpage.

About City University of New York

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving more than 225,000 undergraduate and graduate students and awarding 50,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s mix of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80 percent of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce in every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur "Genius" Grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background. To learn more about CUNY, visit www.cuny.edu.

About the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation

HESC is New York State’s student financial aid agency and a national leader in providing need-based grant and scholarship award money to college-going students. At HESC’s core are more than two dozen grant, scholarship and loan forgiveness programsincluding the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Excelsior Scholarship. HESC puts college within the reach of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year through programs like these and through the guidance it provides to students, families and counselors. HESC helps more than 300,000 students achieve their college dreams each year by providing more than $800M in grants, scholarships and loan forgiveness benefits.

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, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-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 are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than 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 opportunities, visit suny.edu.


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