Marshall helps launch CUNY Month at Queens College

Borough President Helen Marshall officially proclaims November CUNY Month with representatives from several CUNY campuses. Photo courtesy Queens College
TimesLedger Newspapers

The Queens beep kicked off CUNY Month last week at Queens College in Flushing, an institution that was highlighted in an education study released over the summer.

“As a former student and founding chair of the Higher Education Committee in the City Council and later on as borough president, I know full well the value of CUNY and the great contributions over the years that its faculty and students have made to our city and far beyond,” Borough President Helen Marshall said in a statement.

All colleges in the system will celebrate CUNY Month, but a recent study showed that Queens College does especially well at providing quality education to students of any income level, a goal of the entire CUNY network.

But Education Trust, a nonprofit that aims to narrow the gap in education opportunities between low- and high-income students, gave Queens College a special distinction shared with only one other campus in the CUNY system.

The trust compared data of 1,200 four-year colleges across the country and found that Queens and Baruch colleges were two of only five schools that effectively offered quality education at a price that low-income students could afford.

The study was based on three criteria that Queens College met: The college enrolled a proportion of low-income students that is at least equal to the national average, it required low-income families to pay a portion of their yearly household income no greater than that of a middle-class family and it offered students at least a 50 percent chance of graduating.

None of the other 1,195 colleges met the criteria, which the trust said is indicative of a growing inequality that makes higher education unattainable for low-income Americans.

“Family income needed to pay for college has mushroomed. This is especially true for the lowest income households. These families must pay or borrow an amount equivalent to nearly three-quarters of their annual income to send just one child to a four-year college,” the report said.

In fact, the average cost of a four-year university represents 72 percent of a low-income family’s annual income, while it only represents 27 percent for a middle-class family and 14 percent for an upper-class family, the report said.

“In this country, higher education is crucial to achieving the American Dream, but the families of many of our students are immigrants just starting out and are of modest means,” Queens College President James Muyskens said in a statement. “In many cases, our students are among the first in their families to attend college. We take great pride in making a high-quality education accessible to everyone, no matter their economic situation.”

On a statewide level, though, New York was cited as having lower-cost tuition than the national average and ranked second in offering financial assistance to low-income families hoping to send a child to college, according to the report.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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