Recent findings by the Center for an Urban Future illustrated that while almost 79,000 City University of New York students attend college on part-time terms and continue to face similar economic hardships as their full-time counterparts, they have little or no access to tuition or other financial assistance. The majority of these students are affected by external economic factors, such as coming from households with income below $30,000 a year, travel expenses, living costs, and other additional and necessary expenditures. Despite the two groups, full-time and part-time, sharing these economic challenges, tuition assistance continues to be primarily offered only to full-time students.
The current data depicts that a substantial amount of the student population attends university on a part-time basis, and is inherently provided with fewer assistance program opportunities. Over 40 percent of the CUNY community college and approximately one-third of CUNY undergraduates have been recorded to be part-time students in the fall of 2019. Kingsborough Community College offers an even higher percentage, with 50.3 of all students attending on a part-time basis.
Out of the 91,715 community college students of New York, 37,028 engage in part-time education. The Center for an Urban Future has found that fewer than one percent of part-time students at CUNY have been awarded tuition assistance. While other programs exist, they are also limited with Aid for Part-Time Study being able to provide financial packages for only 4.7 per cent of part-time students.
The current policy of tuition assistance programs creates a cycle in which students apply on a full-time basis simply to receive financial aid but are unable to keep up with both their academic tasks due other responsibilities such as work or family. According to Jonathan Bowles and Eli Dvorkin of Center for an Urban Future, the report states that the inability to find assistance is the main obstacle to the inherent goal of university education: “continuous enrollment to graduation.” Officials and organizations of New York have made motions to alter the situation in order to provide part-time students with better opportunities.
According to Bowles and Dvorkin, Governor Hochul proposed “expanding the state’s tuition assistance program to part-time students, backed up with a $150 million investment.” With the support of the legislature, it is likely that such augmentation to the program could allow low-income students to receive adequate credentials and enjoy improved opportunities in the employment market. Bowles and Dvorkin even hypothesize that these opportunities are essential in allowing low-income individuals to progress to the middle class with the progression of their education and career.
Bowles, J., & Dvorkin, E. (2022). Supporting Cuny’s 79,000 part-time students. Center for an Urban Future (CUF). Web.