Freshman applications to The City University of New York for Fall 2018 have risen to a record 50,546 – an 11.1 percent increase as of Dec. 24, 2017, over the same time the year before, the University announced today.

This follows a previous record 9 percent increase in applications in December 2016 over 2015, which resulted in the largest-ever freshman class – 38,372 strong – enrolling in Fall 2017. In addition, this fall CUNY saw a sharp increase in the percentage of full-time freshmen taking 15 or more credits in their first semester, from 30.6 percent to 40.7 percent.

Both the record freshman enrollment and boost in credit-taking are being attributed to the introduction of the Excelsior Scholarship. The program makes New York State public universities tuition-free for families making up to $100,000, while requiring students to earn 30 credits a year in order to qualify.

“Students are seeing the tremendous opportunity and value that CUNY offers,” said Chancellor James B. Milliken. “We believe that Gov. Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship played a significant role in the increases in applications, enrollment and credit-taking by enabling eligible students to attend tuition-free.”

CUNY conducted a comprehensive outreach program to ensure that all eligible students were aware of the Excelsior Scholarship. Chancellor Milliken emailed all CUNY faculty, staff and students. The University not only reached out extensively on social media, but also contacted more than 3,000 high school guidance counselors, teachers, and community-based organization leaders and met in person with 80 guidance counselors. CUNY also hosted a Facebook Live Information session viewed by more than 3,950 unique students and families. As a result, CUNY received more than 30,000 applications for Fall 2017, of which the state Higher Education Services Corporation identified more than 10,000 eligible students; about 4,700 students actually received Excelsior Scholarship funding to attend CUNY colleges tuition-free this fall.

The Dec. 24 application data represent a snapshot in time in an ongoing application process. The final number of students who enroll in CUNY’s colleges won’t be known until the next academic year starts.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 23 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni. CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.