Governor Hochul Sends Letters To High School Seniors Encouraging Students To Complete The FAFSA

Published

4/15/2024 

GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL

 

GOVERNOR HOCHUL SENDS LETTERS TO HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS ENCOURAGING STUDENTS TO COMPLETE THE FAFSA 

  During National FAFSA Week of Action, Letters to be Distributed to High School Seniors and High School Principals Urging Them to Ensure Every Student is #FAFSAReady 

  Part of Financial Aid Awareness Month Campaign to Ensure Eligible Students Have Access to Financial Aid 

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that letters will be distributed to high school seniors to provide them with helpful tips and resources to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Letters will also be sent to high school principals urging them to make sure each senior student has the resources needed to access financial aid. The mailings are a part of Financial Aid Awareness Month, which Governor Hochul launched at the beginning of this month. 

“Far too often, New York students don’t realize the full scope of financial aid that is available to them to help cover the cost of higher education,” Governor Hochul said. “As part of Financial Aid Awareness Month, my administration is conducting outreach to high school seniors and principals to ensure students complete the FAFSA and have the resources needed to access financial support to continue their education.” 

Last year, New York’s high school students left over $200 million in federal aid unclaimed by not filling out the FAFSA. The FAFSA is free, and opens the door to federal and state aid, including Tuition Assistance Program and Excelsior Scholarship, as well as other college funding awards. Year over year, FAFSA submission rates are down 24 percent in New York State.

Students and their families are encouraged to go to https://www.hesc.ny.gov/fafsaready to learn about events and informational services in their community. Students can also follow #FAFSAReady to hear from current college students. 

Leaders across the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), State University of New York (SUNY), City University of New York (CUNY) and academic and community organizations in New York are joining the Governor in her campaign to make sure New Yorkers take every opportunity to access funding for college. 

Each institution continues to host multiple events this month to help students and their families complete the FAFSA or the Dream Act, and Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) applications. Events include information sessions on how to fill out financial aid applications, virtual drop in opportunities to connect with HESC, SUNY and CUNY experts, and discussions about scholarship opportunities for students. A full schedule of events can be found here

As part of the Governor’s 2024 State of the State, she announced her plan to require graduating high school seniors to fill out the FAFSA form as an effort to boost completion rates. Studies show that students who complete the FAFSA are more likely to go to college. Specifically, 90 percent of high school seniors who complete the form go to college directly after graduation, compared to just 55 percent of seniors who don’t fill out the aid application. 

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “Governor Hochul is fighting to ensure New York's high school seniors complete the FAFSA application. The letters being sent out to high school students and principals are just another step the Governor is taking, during Financial Aid Awareness Month, to make certain every graduating senior knows how to complete the FAFSA application and does so. SUNY continues to offer multiple in-person and virtual financial aid sessions to meet students where they are, so they learn about all the financial aid they are entitled to, and make the decision to go on to college, further their education, and better their lives.” 

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said, “We greatly appreciate Governor Hochul's proactive and personalized actions to raise awareness of the importance of FAFSA completion this year. CUNY will continue to work in partnership with the Governor and state educational leaders to ensure that every prospective and returning student has the resources and support to access the full range of federal and New York State financial aid, so they can arrive on campus in September prepared to take advantage of every opportunity higher education can offer them.” 

Higher Education Services Corporation President Dr. Guillermo Linares said, “I am immensely grateful to Governor Hochul for highlighting the crucial role that completing FAFSA plays in unlocking the doors to higher education for our students.  Her efforts to ensure students complete the FAFSA or Dream Act application aligns with HESC’s mission to empower and support young scholars in realizing their academic aspirations. Too much financial aid remains unclaimed each year, and our collective efforts can significantly change the futures of thousands of students across New York State.” 

New York State has been working to improve the FAFSA completion statistics by training college students to provide in-person assistance with the financial aid application process. 

SUNY and CUNY have taken several steps to assist students and their families in applying for financial aid to make college more affordable including: 

  • Delaying deposit deadlines at state operated campuses until no earlier than May 15 and June 1 for commitment day at CUNY campuses, so that families have time to make an informed decision with their financial aid offers
  • FAFSA information sessions across the state, including FAFSA Completion events in Rochester, Buffalo, Yonkers and New York City  
  • Virtual FAFSA completion workshops, held in English and Spanish to help families complete the FAFSA  
  • Working with State partners to develop and promote online resources including print-ready resources for counselors and students to help guide them through the financial aid process; and  
  • The launch of the SUNY FAFSA Completion Corps, an AmeriCorps funded program that supports nearly 50 SUNY students serving as near-peer mentors to help students complete the FAFSA.   
  • The launch of CUNY Financial Aid Support Team (FAST) earlier this month to help 100,000 students complete the FAFSA. The Petrie Foundation awarded CUNY $1 million for the initiative. 
  • Helping high school students complete FAFSA forms through CUNY’s K16 Initiatives College and Career Advisory Programs
  • CUNY sent emails to current CUNY students and Fall 24 applicants about changes to the form and launched a social media campaign. The University will also host FAFSA Completion Workshops with Admissions. Workshop dates will be posted here. 
  • CUNY campuses have increased financial aid workshops and completion events all spring and have leveraged Federal Work Study funds in partnership with the National Partnership for Student Success to hire students to support financial aid offices. The University will also host FAFSA Completion Workshops with Admissions. Workshop dates will be posted here.  

About the State University of New York 

The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, 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

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 programs, including 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.