Statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on SUNY Trustees Vote To Remove Questions About Convictions From SUNY Admissions Applications

September 14, 2016

From the office of Governor Cuomo

"I commend the SUNY Board of Trustees for acting today to remove questions about a prospective student’s criminal history from admissions applications. I directed SUNY leadership to carefully examine this issue, because re-entry reform is a priority for my administration. We must help individuals who have served their time to move past their mistakes.

"Research shows that a majority of candidates who are asked to disclose prior felony convictions on SUNY admissions applications do not complete the process. This has a particularly negative impact on applicants of color as a result of racial disparities in the criminal justice system. 

"I also commend the Board of Trustees for recognizing that questions about a student’s prior felony offenses can be relevant to some aspects of the college experience. Under the reasoned proposal adopted by the Trustees, schools will be permitted to inquire about prior convictions on applications for campus housing, or participation in study-abroad or other specialized programs, and each will go through a careful, individualized assessment. 

"Higher education represents an important stepping stone toward personal and professional fulfillment. Every New Yorker deserves a fair and equal chance to achieve their goals.

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

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Holly Liapis
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