Governor Cuomo Announces $500,000 to Increase College Participation Among Traditionally Underserved Students

Federal funds to support college tours provided by schools and community-based organizations.

Print Email

Albany, NY - December 26, 2013 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the availability of funding for college tours to provide low-income students from across the state an opportunity to experience college first-hand and increase their interest in continuing their education beyond high school.

“Under the College Access Challenge Grant program, we are giving low-income high school students and their families the opportunity to explore colleges firsthand,” Governor Cuomo said. “The public and private partnerships we have forged in the last several years with this program have been invaluable in helping New York’s students grow their education beyond high school and getting them actively engaged in the college process. These grants are an important investment in our children, allowing disadvantaged students to visit campuses and realize that a bright academic future is within their reach.”
A visit to a college campus can significantly influence a student’s motivation to continue their education beyond high school. While going on a college tours is a “rite of passage” for many high school students, the expense is often beyond the reach for low-income students and their families.
The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), which administers New York’s College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) program, is dedicating $500,000 in CACG funds to support sub-grants of up to $45,000 for organizations that provide college tours to low-income students. The tours are to be provided by schools, not-for-profit agencies, and community-based organizations that work directly with at-risk populations and populations that are traditionally underserved.
“The costs involved in a college campus visit can be a barrier to attending college for low-income students,” said Elsa Magee, acting president of HESC. “We’re excited to work with partners who will help spur enthusiasm and motivation for college in traditionally underserved students by allowing them to experience college first-hand without having to worry about the associated costs.”
More than 700 low-income students participated in tours under the $250,000 summer College Tour Initiative offered through organizations such as the Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc. and the Grand St. Settlement in New York City. The Binghamton City School District provided tours for 100 low-income students, who participated in overnight visits to the Rochester Institute of Technology, Monroe Community College, Buffalo State College, and the University at Buffalo. Additionally, day trips took students to the SUNY colleges at Cortland, Oneonta, Delhi and Alfred; Tompkins-Cortland Community College; Alfred University; and the University at Albany.
Tonia Thompson, Assistant Superintendent of the Binghamton City School District, said, “Giving our students the opportunity to see themselves on a college campus is very motivating and it enables them to see college as a viable option for their future.”
Cecilia Becker, a senior at Binghamton High School, participated in the college tour trips last summer. “Not everyone can afford these visits to find the right college,” Cecilia said. “Going on these tours opened my eyes to the reality that college is attainable.”
Detailed information about the College Access Challenge Grant Program, including application information for the College Tour Initiative, recipients of CACG sub-grant awards and their projects, is available at