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SUNY expanding Education Opportunity Program with additional state funding

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras has announced a plan to expand the Education Opportunity Program (EOP). EOP provides access, academic support, and financial assistance to more than 77,000 students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. (Photo credit: Jackie Orchard SUNY)

PURCHASE, N.Y. — SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras has announced a plan to expand the Education Opportunity Program (EOP) after the state provided a $6.4 million increase for the program.

The announcement marks the “largest single investment and most significant expansion of EOP since the inception of the program,” SUNY said.

Malatras announced the plan during a visit last week to SUNY Purchase in Westchester County.

The plan — which will begin with the first-ever Spring 2022 class to “better meet students’ needs” on their schedule — has components that include more access for students, promoting retention and aid for students in need, and more resources and counselors.

SUNY says EOP has provided access, academic support, and financial assistance to more than 77,000 students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.

Increased access

Under the plan, SUNY will increase enrollment up to 1,000, boosting EOP enrollment to 9,000 students, from the 8,000 that were served by the program in 2020-21.

Additionally, SUNY’s plan will expand the reach of EOP to more students by establishing new programs at five SUNY community colleges this year. As of now, 10 SUNY community colleges do not have an EOP program.

SUNY also plans to expand opportunities to meet students’ need on their schedule by starting the first-ever spring semester EOP cohort. To this point, the only option for incoming EOP students is to start during the fall semester.

Promote retention

SUNY will establish a $2 million student-persistence-fund to help EOP students who are at greatest risk of dropping out due to unforeseen financial circumstances during the academic year. Funding can range from $50 up to a maximum of $2,000 per student.

In addition, SUNY’s plan will increase the funding per EOP student at each campus, increasing from $2,600 to $2,800 per student, and the overall funding formula at most community colleges, increasing from $1,050 to $1,300 per student. The funding is used to pay for academic counseling, direct financial aid, and additional academic support.

In addition, funding will also help pay to double SUNY’s pre-medical opportunity program, which was announced in July. And new investment will fund the creation of an EOP student ambassadors’ program to better support EOP students and help strengthen recruitment efforts.

Increase resources and counselors

Under the program, SUNY has purchased 890 laptops to mitigate technology gaps for incoming students. And, to support the EOP counseling expansion on campuses, 15 additional counselors will be hired across SUNY to assist EOP students as they work toward their college degrees. Without the additional counselors, SUNY cannot serve more students.

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