Governor Cuomo Announces More Than 370 Students Register for Making College Possible Coding Challenge

Governor Cuomo announced that more than 370 students from SUNY and CUNY schools, competing in more than 70 teams, registered to take part in the Making College Possible Coding Challenge.

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$2,000 cash prize for finalists furnished by SUNY and CUNY systems.

Photo by: Governor's Press Office.

Albany, NY - February 21, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than 370 students from SUNY and CUNY schools, competing in more than 70 teams, registered to take part in the Making College Possible Coding Challenge, the first-ever statewide coding competition for SUNY and CUNY students. The challenge invites students to create a digital prototype of a mobile app or website to share information about the Excelsior Scholarship and what “making college possible” means to them.  The students, who represent a wide variety of two- and four-year SUNY and CUNY schools across the state, received an official prompt to begin creating their digital prototype on February 14. The first draft of their prototype is due February 27.

"The impressive number of submissions displays the breadth of talent and spirit of innovation embodied by our SUNY and CUNY students," Governor Cuomo said. "By providing tuition-free college to SUNY and CUNY schools, the Excelsior Scholarship will help thousands of students pursue their dreams, and this challenge provides a unique opportunity to let students share what this pioneering proposal means to them, as well as show the world their creativity and ingenuity."

The preliminary judging will take place in late February, and the top five entrants will move on to the final judging and pitch session, to take place in early March in New York City. The finalists will work with mentors from New York’s technology community and pitch their final products to a judging panel that will select one winner. The winning submission will be used to promote the Excelsior Scholarship, and the finalists will receive $2,000 per team furnished by the SUNY and CUNY systems.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, “SUNY students from throughout the state have seized on the opportunity of Governor Cuomo’s coding competition, and with good reason. The competition provides an opportunity for students to showcase their talent and creativity while also producing a new platform where the value of college affordability can be shared with their peers, in their own voice. I look forward to seeing what our students come up with.”

CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken said, "CUNY has terrifically talented students who, like most college students, are concerned about the cost of education.  This competition combines their passions for technology and access to education.  Thanks to Governor Cuomo for launching the coding competition but especially for the ground-breaking Excelsior Scholarship Program."

More than 70 teams of students from the following SUNY and CUNY schools across the state registered for the competition:

  • Alfred State College 
  • Baruch College 
  • Borough of Manhattan Community College 
  • Broome Community College 
  • Buffalo State University 
  • City College
  • Finger Lakes Community College 
  • Hunter College 
  • John Jay College
  • LaGuardia Community College 
  • Lehman College 
  • New York City College of Technology 
  • Onondaga Community College 
  • Queens College 
  • Stony Brook University
  • SUNY Albany
  • SUNY Binghamton 
  • SUNY Fredonia 
  • SUNY Plattsburgh 
  • SUNY Sullivan 
  • Westchester Community College 
  • York College

Know the Facts – The Excelsior Scholarship
The Excelsior Scholarship program requires participating students to be enrolled at a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year college full-time. The initiative will cover middle class families and individuals making up to $125,000 through a supplemental aid program. Currently 80 percent of NY households statewide make $125,000 or less with an estimated 940,000 households having college-aged children that would be eligible for the program.

The new initiative will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019.

The Excelsior Scholarship program is designed to provide the most students with the greatest opportunity to attend college tuition free in New York – and that goal is met most cost-effectively by partnering with SUNY and CUNY.

The Governor’s program does not treat New York’s private universities unfairly. The state has invested more than $2.4 billion in private schools since 2011, and currently provides grants to approximately 90,000 students to attend private schools. The state of New York’s investment in private colleges is greater than that of any other state besides Texas.

Moreover, tuition at New York’s private colleges is much higher than at public institutions – the average tuition for a private school in New York is $34,000 a year compared to roughly $6,400 at SUNY and CUNY four-year schools and $4,300 at our community colleges.

Based on enrollment projections, the plan is expected to cost approximately $163 million per year once fully phased in. While the cost estimate of the program is low, that is because it works with already existing programs to close the “last mile” of tuition costs. It combines New York’s already robust $1 billion Tuition Assistance Program with federal grant funding, and then fills in any remaining gaps.

The Governor’s program also works by incentivizing students to graduate on-time, requiring students to attend college full-time and graduate with an Associate’s Degree in two years or a Bachelor’s Degree in four years. Graduation rates at New York’s public colleges, while similar to other schools nationwide, are too low – 61 percent of four-year students and 91 percent of our two-year community college students in New York don’t complete their degrees on time.

The Excelsior scholarship aims to change that, saving students time and money by reducing their overall debt burden. The plan also recognizes there may be circumstances outside students' control, which is why the proposal includes a “stepping out” provision so that students will be able to pause and restart the program if life gets in the way.

By 2024, 3.5 million jobs in New York State will require an associate’s degree or higher – roughly 420,000 more jobs than in 2014. But for too many families, the cost of college is currently out of reach. The Excelsior Scholarship will equip students with the skills they need to succeed by making an advanced degree tuition free, and ensure they are able to secure the high-tech, high-paying jobs of tomorrow.