The SUNY System Saw a Huge Success with Its Two-Week Fee-Waiver Initiative

IBL News | New York

The SUNY system — the largest system of higher education in the U.S. — saw an increase of 110% year-over-year increase in the number of student applications. The total growth was from 97,257 to 204,437 in the Fall of 2023.

It was due in large part to its first-ever two-week fee waiver initiative: students had the opportunity to apply for free to up to five SUNY campuses for a savings of $250.

On average, each applicant applied to two SUNY campuses.

At the same time, SUNY saw increases in applications from potential students from other states. Applicants in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Illinois, and California were eligible to receive their in-state tuition and fees at a SUNY school. From that program alone, applications were up nearly 80 percent for the Fall 2023 cycle, and across all states outside of New York, applications are up about 70 percent.

SUNY Interim Chancellor, Deborah F. Stanley said, “New York State has significantly invested in higher education as a driving force for its economy, and we want to make sure all New Yorkers can avail themselves of a high-quality, affordable education across our state.”

Joel Wincowski, Deputy to the Chancellor for Enrollment, said, “The increase in applications has far exceeded our expectations. It is a testament to the high-quality education for which SUNY is known, with some of the best faculty, staff, and campus communities in the nation. This increase is only the beginning of an upward trend we expect in enrollment across our campuses. To that end, we will work with campuses to help applicants make their final decision on which SUNY campus will be home next fall.”

Another relevant data is that 50% of full-time New York undergrads are paying $0 for tuition at SUNY with financial aid.

SUNY has ongoing fee waivers that apply to 60 percent of all high school seniors. Students in foster care, with military connections, low-income students, and students at 500+ designated high schools can apply for up to seven SUNY campuses for free, saving up to $350 any time during the year.