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Dollars for Scholars: The CUNY Value


Demand for a CUNY education is rising for the 11th year in a row, with a record 270,952 students expected this fall. They include more undergraduates, more top students, and more transfers, clear indicators that students with academic options know higher education value - quality academic programs plus affordability -when they see it.

In 2011, CUNY’s neediest undergraduates benefited from a need-based tuition free college education, thanks to federal Pell and state Tuition Assistance Program aid. Forty-four percent of all undergraduates, whether they attend full time or part time, received a need-based, tuition free college education in 2011. For those undergraduate students who attend CUNY full time,  more than 58 percent - about 100,000 students - received a need-based, tuition free college education in 2011.

During the 2010-11 academic year, an estimated $770 million in combined Pell and TAP went to some 170,000 CUNY undergraduates. As enrollment continued its climb to this year’s record levels, CUNY administered about $541 million in Pell for 139,609 recipients and $228 million in TAP to 100,118 students, according to the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

Final enrollment figures will be available later, but the trend is clear: students are choosing, and changing, colleges to secure a quality education in an unforgiving economy. The University accepted about 69,000 freshmen, approximately 2,250 more than last year, and about 28,200 transfer students from within and outside of CUNY, roughly 5,300 more than last year. It accepted 20,202 with high-school GPAs of 85 or more, 7.8 percent more than in fall 2010 and 104.5 percent more than in fall 2002.

Relatively low student debt underscores the affordability of CUNY colleges. With affordable tuition, financial aid and tax credits, most CUNY students graduate with little or no debt compared with their peers at SUNY and private institutions. When they do borrow, it is for significantly smaller amounts, according to the Project on Student Debt (see


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