To keep pace with the rapid changes of a knowledge-based economy, CUNY will ensure that more New Yorkers are able to attend college and earn degrees.

CUNY will extend the benefits of higher education to more New Yorkers and the value of our degrees will be improved.

  • We will support significantly expanded access to the benefits of higher education through the Governor’s historic free tuition plan, removing a barrier to many low and middle-income students.
  • We will transform recruitment, admissions, and financial aid processes to be more competitive and enroll more New Yorkers.
  • CUNY will aggressively expand the high quality online education offered by CUNY’s colleges, supporting the infrastructure, training and incentives necessary to reach ambitious new goals.

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A major new initiative will significantly expand online instruction throughout the University. Its purpose is to strengthen and expand online courses and programs to accelerate students’ academic progress, to extend CUNY’s reach and bring in new enrollments, and to raise the profile of both the University and its constituent campuses. Collectively constituting a single initiative, and with a single point of access, the initiative will be more than the aggregate of online offerings throughout the University. A shared-services approach will make faculty development, student orientation and support, and a University-wide technical infrastructure a seamless, synergistic whole.

Features will include:

  • A portal to increase (and improve access to) online courses throughout CUNY, not just a catalog of courses but of shared services and information.
  • A shared learning management system for all of CUNY, facilitating access, navigability and 24/7 technical support, undergirded throughout by a just-completed extension of high bandwidth to all the campuses.
  • A University-wide faculty development program to ensure faculty readiness and support, including the use of rich media (with full ADA compliance), of adaptive learning, and of analytics.
  • A University-wide orientation to online learning for students, supporting their readiness and engagement as well as effective practices in academic integrity and early intervention.
  • An in-house accelerator for online program development (including project management, instructional design support, quality assurance, and business modeling).

The initiative seeks to realize the full potential of the strong alignment between the CUNY mission and the power of online education – to enhance access for those who otherwise could not get an education; to increase academic momentum and progress for students already enrolled; to encourage our faculty to engage in the most effective pedagogy; to facilitate cross-pollination across our campuses; to grow enrollment in a time of revenue shortages; to build platforms that will expand our reach beyond the city boundaries to the rest of the world.

  • We will focus on degree completion for the more than one million New Yorkers who have some credits but no degree by creating a one-stop service, providing academic and career advisors to support working adults. We will also launch an initiative to connect working and mid-career learners with courses leading to degrees and certificates, and we will expand use of prior learning assessments for degree requirements and competency-based credentialing.

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New York State currently has 1.8 million adults with some college but no degrees, and almost half of those adults live in New York City. CUNY will widen its doors to adult and returning students so that they can earn the degrees that will boost their careers and can change the trajectories of families. The measures include:

  • Creating a one-stop shop for returning students with administrative services and academic and career advisors available to support adult students and working adults and guide them to appropriate courses.
  • Advertising directly to working adults and recruit adult students via targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Working with partners in business, industry and labor, developing fully online degree and certificate programs aligned with careers in high-demand, high-growth areas.
  • Expanding alternative forms of credit accumulation through prior learning assessments and competency-based credentialing to acknowledge what working adults know and can do.
  • Creating alternate forms of credentialing such as badges and certificates that have currency with employers in today’s workplace.
  • Expanding non-degree-to-degree options and creating stackable degrees to enable adults to get on track and move up the career ladder with solid skills and credentials that employers recognize, value and reward.

CUNY will double its three-year graduation rate for associate degrees, leading the nation in urban community college attainment. We will also raise by ten points the six-year graduation rate for bachelor’s programs.

  • CUNY’s new culture of completion will be reflected by pervasive “college momentum” campaigns and alignment of advising at every undergraduate college to make annual accumulation of 30 credits the norm.
  • The university will expand the groundbreaking ASAP program to 25,000 community college students by 2018-19, including full implementation of ASAP for all full-time students at Bronx Community College, and pilot ASAP-like completion programs at senior colleges.
  • We will work with our funding partners to significantly increase the number of academic advisers at colleges and the technological resources to support them, provide better support through increased use of data analytics and technology, and place new emphasis on supporting transfer students, including accelerated evaluation of transcripts on entry.

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CUNY will significantly increase the number of academic advisors at all colleges and will orient academic advisement around degree completion. CUNY has reduced the student-to-advisor ratio at the community colleges. With City funding for additional academic advisors and with the expansion of the ASAP program, average advisement ratios in the community colleges have been cut almost in half, from more than 400 students per advisor to about 246 students per advisor by 2019. These ratios may decline further as the ASAP program expands to 25,000 students. These manageable caseloads will enable the colleges to orient academic advisement around degree completion so that the job of an academic advisor becomes that of an academic success coach rather than a course registration consultant.

We will also invest in academic technology to improve academic advisement and to better assess student degree progress and risk. We must also provide advisors and students with timelier information on course requirements, academic progress and risk, and course availability. Our first priority will be the upgrade of Degree Works, CUNY’s degree audit software. An educational planning tool will allow students and advisors to track progress toward academic plans or degree maps, and the transfer finder will enable students and advisors to see how their courses and credits will transfer to other CUNY colleges for each specific major.

We also plan to invest in an academic advisement and predictive analytics system to support academic advisement and data-based decision making at CUNY’s senior colleges. The system will identify students who face degree completion barriers and facilitate referrals to needed support services. It will also provide information to help students and advisors identify the academic programs in which a student is most likely to succeed. When an advisor refers a student to a college support service, the advisor will be able to monitor whether and when the student uses the service.

CUNY will eliminate barriers to registration and credit acceptance between CUNY colleges, and encourage students to take full advantage of the rich academic opportunities throughout the University, across college lines.

  • New policies and processes will make it much easier for students at each college to take courses at any other CUNY college and receive full degree credit.

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Many CUNY undergraduates have said that they could not register for a required course at their college because no seats were available. At times, students are prevented from taking certain required courses that are offered infrequently, forcing them to register for a less desirable alternative to retain eligibility for TAP(state financial assistance)while delaying their degree progress.

To address this barrier to student success, CUNY will offer students access to courses on time and across the CUNY system. This approach is facilitated by the fact that CUNY’s campuses are all located within New York City and are reachable via a superb public transit system.

CUNY will provide better information about course shortages and better planning to insure that sufficient sections of high-demand courses are offered at the right times, including in the evening and on weekends. Investments in course planning and scheduling software will assist departments and the academic administration of the individual colleges to match capacity with demand.

The university will also leverage the intellectual re­sources of the CUNY system so that students can take courses within the university at colleges other than their home institution. This plan consists of three closely related components: facilitating university-wide course taking by improving the permit process, creating a university-wide, searchable online course cat­alogue, and expanding online course offerings. This strategy is one more way in which CUNY can become better connected to better serve its students.

  • We will expand joint and dual degree opportunities and stackable degree strategies within and among colleges.

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CUNY will develop new opportunities for students to earn more than one CUNY degree simultaneously during their academic career at the University. This strategy, which will leverage the resources of faculty across the CUNY system, will be implemented through collaboration between the central Office of Academic Affairs and the colleges.

We will advance this goal in two ways: by establishing new programs that join existing and related offerings at multiple institutions and by refining and enforcing university policies that facilitate the transfer of credits from one institution to another. The new joint degree programs will accelerate degree progress by counting a limited amount of coursework toward more than one academic credential. In addition, CUNY will create new linkages among degree programs—from associate to masters– within and between colleges to prepare students for emerging and expanding professions.

  • CUNY will fully implement new planning software tools to improve course availability and implement predictable course scheduling.

CUNY will increase diversity at its most selective institutions and at its highest levels of degree attainment.

  • CUNY will strengthen application pipelines and streamline and improve application and transfer processes, expanding the proportion of underrepresented groups at senior colleges.
  • CUNY will diversify its flagship honors program by launching a new transfer program from community colleges to the Macaulay Honors College.
  • Master’s and doctoral programs will implement strategies to significantly step up recruiting among underrepresented groups within and beyond CUNY.

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CUNY’s Graduate Center takes seriously the goal of creating greater diversity in its doctoral student body and is taking a number of steps to achieve the objective.

We are establishing the Provost’s Enhancement Fellowship to support students from underrepresented groups. This is a five-year addition, of $10,000 to the $25,000, to the Graduate Center Fellowship. The new awards also encourage program officers to expand the number of fellowship awards directly to minority students.

We are increasing attendance by admissions staff at conferences and fairs devoted to recruitment of diverse students, such as CSTEM (an NYU graduate fair devoted to underrepresented populations interested in the sciences), the National Society of Black Physicists conference and the PhD Project conference (the premiere recruiting event for prospective minority applicants in business). We are also advertising in student newspapers at historically diverse colleges and universities, supporting visits to the Graduate Center by prospective students from underrepresented groups, using social media to reach out to prospective applicants as well as diversity practitioners, historically diverse colleges and universities, and ethnic studies administrators at other colleges.

We are naming a Senior Advisor on Diversity and Inclusion who reports directly to the president and forming doctoral program diversity committees and encouraging other strategies for placing diversity at the heart of all program activities.

We will greatly strengthen student services and supports to speed degree completion.

  • We will improve student services by integrating them into one-stop centers, improving staffing on evenings and weekends, and expanding online and mobile delivery of information and services, including social media, to provide students with timely, accurate and consistent information on credits and degree status.
  • Under the new administrative restructuring program, we will streamline business processes associated with admissions, course registration, tuition payment, financial aid and other student services to sharply improve the overall student experience.
  • We will require timely, thorough and efficient orientations for all students — freshmen, transfer students and students of online courses.
  • CUNY will deploy student early academic warning systems with back-up supports, and connect academic, social, legal and financial services to better support student success.
  • We will work with our funding partners to expand Single Stop social service centers from the current eight to all 18 CUNY undergraduate colleges to assist students in overcoming financial and other barriers.

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Students from low-income backgrounds are significantly less likely to complete a college education than their peers from high-income families. Single Stop programs help CUNY address the financial needs of our students and it will be expanded and upgraded to improve completion rates for lower income students. It involves a national, anti-poverty non-profit that partners with CUNY to operate Single Stop programs at eight CUNY campuses. On-campus Single Stop programs connect CUNY students to public benefits and community resources that allow them to focus on completing their college education.

In the short-term, the food stamps (SNAP), cash assistance, tax returns, financial counseling, and legal services available through Single Stop provide students with a critical supplement to traditional sources of financial aid. In the long-term, Single Stop helps students remain in and graduate from college, which means better paying jobs and improved economic mobility throughout their lifetimes. The service is also available to members of the students’ households.

Students who visit their campus’ Single Stop office first provide basic information about their household (e.g. number of children, average monthly income) to a social services professional. Single Stop then identifies the public and community resources they may be eligible to receive. From there, the worker helps the students decide which benefits and resources to apply for, provides guidance on the application process, and advocates to various government offices on behalf of students. The Single Stop software also allows CUNY to gather data on key performance indicators that demonstrate the program’s success.

From 2009 through the 2015-16 academic year, Single Stop programs at CUNY have connected more than 85,000 students and their families with almost $200 million in public benefits, tax refunds, and community services.

Over the next four years, CUNY will expand Single Stop to its senior colleges, increasing the number of campus sites from 8 to 18. Key to this expansion is CUNY’s negotiation of a new licensure agreement with Single Stop that would allow the University to retain access to the proprietary digital benefits eligibility screening tool and the array of auxiliary services. Finally, to facilitate University-wide coordination and alignment of these programs, the replication of best practices, and the creation of a CUNY-wide culture that embraces public benefits as “the new financial aid,” CUNY must establish a University-wide Single Stop Council.

John Jay’s Accelerate, Complete, and Engage (ACE)

CUNY has adapted the successful ASAP model, currently in place  at CUNY’s community colleges, in a baccalaureate college setting at John Jay College of Criminal Justice as John Jay Accelerate, Complete and Engage, or ACE.  The program’s combination of structured full-time degree pathways, financial resources—tuition waivers, metro cards, textbook stipends produced promising results for the first cohort of students:  79 percent of ACE students earned 30 credits or more in their first year and summer, contrasted with 56.7 percent in the comparison group.  The one-year retention rate from fall 2015 to fall 2016 was 82.8 percent for the ACE students, higher than the 77.8 percent for the comparison group. Based on these promising findings, further expansion of the ACE model is recommended at John Jay and up to four additional CUNY senior colleges, Lehman, York, City, and Brooklyn Colleges to serve a total enrollment of 7,500 students by 2022/23.

Making students’ life on campus easier via app

Kingsborough Community College’s AssistMe is a pilot app program that provides fingertip access to information and services to help keep students on track. It offers quick answers about financial aid, academic support, food and housing assistance, residency and child care.