The State University of New York (SUNY) system has announced it is expanding a program that has garnered national attention for significantly increasing low-income students’ graduation rates through comprehensive wraparound support, The New York Times reports. Initially launched in 2007 at the City University of New York (CUNY) system, Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is expected to help SUNY schools increase retention rates among participants at a time when enrollment in New York’s public university system has decreased. ASAP—along with Accelerate, Complete, Engage (ACE), which serves students in bachelor’s degree programs—increases students’ likelihood of staying in school by offering money for college costs not covered by financial aid, unlimited Metrocards, career services, and intensive advising from entry to graduation, according to the program’s list of benefits.
An investment in student success
Having successfully replicated ASAP at its Westchester Community College campus, SUNY now plans to expand the program to 25 campuses in the SUNY system in 2024, with 150 students enrolled on each campus. Funded by the state budget, private donations, and participating schools, ASAP will cost roughly $2,000 a year per student.
“I would argue it is a very smart investment,” said SUNY Chancellor John King, who hopes the program will have a positive impact on students, according to the Times. King noted that if the program produces strong results for SUNY students, “that will help send a really powerful message across the system and the state and help us make the case for more resources, because this costs money.”
Several studies have demonstrated ASAP’s efficacy—across CUNY, and at colleges in other states. At CUNY, the average three-year graduation rate of the 88,000 students who have participated in ASAP since its founding is 53%, compared to 25% for a statistically matched comparison group, the system said. Nationally, only about 20% of first time, full-time students at public community colleges complete their associate degree in three years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and just over 62% of students in bachelor’s degree programs graduated in six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. At CUNY, the program costs an estimated $3,400 per year per student, with CUNY enrolling one-third of its students in the program.
“Students feel that someone has their back, that there’s this comprehensive set of resources around them that are very thoughtfully put together,” Donna Linderman, the senior vice chancellor for student success at SUNY, who also helped lead the CUNY program, according to the Times. “There’s always someone there who is thinking about what could be a challenge for you.”