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BMCC Expands Free ASAP Opportunity in Response to NYC Mayor's Initiative

June 17, 2016

In Fall 2016, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) aims to build enrollment from about 1,500 to more than 4,000 students its free Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP).

Thanks to increased funding from Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York, that goal is within reach. A recent City of New York fiscal report shows ASAP funding to increase from $13 million in Fiscal 2017, to $42 million by Fiscal 2019.

Expanding a highly successful model

The increased funding reflects the success of the comprehensive ASAP package of financial, academic and counseling benefits.

According to the Mayor’s report, “ASAP has demonstrated unprecedented success in improving student graduation rates." BMCC's most recent three-year graduation rate is an impressive 61.3%, and the CUNY Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) reports that the current ASAP 3-year graduation rate across the six cohorts that have graduated to date from all the participating CUNY colleges is 53% — versus 23% for similar CUNY comparison group students.

ASAP was launched in 2007 at BMCC and five other CUNY community colleges through the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity. ASAP at BMCC is the largest within CUNY; the program has received national attention and was featured in an Atlantic Magazine article in 2014.

Doubling the graduation rate

ASAP has almost doubled three-year graduation rates for low-income students needing some remediation, based on their incoming CUNY Assessment scores.

At BMCC, ASAP students join a small learning cohort and receive incentives including priority registration, free MetroCards, free tutoring, textbook vouchers and a dedicated counselor.

Almost all ASAP students are eligible to attend tuition free. Participants receive federal and state tuition benefits, and whatever is left over is covered by an ASAP tuition waiver.

The few participants who are not eligible for tuition assistance still receive all the free support that ASAP provides — and because of BMCC’s affordable tuition and scholarship opportunities, they earn an associate degree at a remarkable value.

Financial, academic and counseling benefits

“I chose ASAP at BMCC because of the holistic family feel that they have,” says Psychology major Niamani Charran. “They help you financially by paying off the rest of the tuition if you receive financial aid. They give you $500 for textbooks and a free MetroCard, and that helps students keep their money in their pockets for necessities like rent or food.”

The financial benefits of ASAP are intertwined with the one-on-one support students receive.

“Another thing I like about ASAP is that besides all the benefits, they are there for you,” says Charran. “For example, during finals they give you free breakfast the whole week, and the counselors at ASAP actually care about your success. If you fall behind or go a little off track, they make sure you get right back on track.”

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • BMCC's ASAP is free to eligible students
  • City of New York plans to increase ASAP funding to $42 million by Fiscal 2019
  • 53 percent of ASAP students graduate within three years, compared to 23 percent of their peers

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