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CUNY & SUNY Student Programs

New York State supports Opportunity Programs on many public and private campuses. They are admissions programs that enable students to enroll who do not meet the traditional academic guidelines but show promise as well as financial need. This article provides you a general overview of what they are, where to go for next steps. 

About Opportunity Programs

The New York State (NYS) Opportunity Programs were designed to increase college access and success for students who have been educationally and economically disadvantaged. Opportunity Programs allow students to be admitted to colleges that they would not normally be admissible to because their grades and/or test scores are a little too low. Once in college, Opportunity Programs provide substantial support including pre-freshman summer programs, tutoring, advising and additional financial aid. 

What are the differences between College Discovery, SEEK, CD, EOP, and HEOP?

SEEK, CD, EOP, and HEOP are all names of different NYS Opportunity Programs. SEEK and CD are for CUNY students. SEEK (Search for Elevation, Education and Knowledge) exists at CUNY four year institutions, CD (College Discovery) at CUNY two year schools.  EOP, the Educational Opportunity Program, exists at SUNY schools. HEOP, the Higher Educational Opportunity Program, exists at certain NYS private schools.   

College Discovery is CUNY’s higher education opportunity program (HEOP) in the community colleges. SEEK is for four year colleges. It is admissions program designed to assist high-potential, low-income students who otherwise might not be able to pursue a college degree because they are not academically prepared for college-level work.

 SEEK stands for Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge. It is the higher education opportunity program at the senior (four year) CUNY colleges. It was established to provide comprehensive academic support to assist capable students who otherwise might not be able to attend college due to their educational and financial circumstances.

 For more information, visit their website or contact Office of Special Programs Director, Mavis Hall, at [email protected] 

Youth Matter

Youth Matter is a program supporting SEEK and College Discovery students at The City University of New York who are currently in or previously were in Foster Care, are orphans, or wards of the court. Youth Matter was established to help facilitate the retention and graduation rate of foster youth in college. Youth Matter provides resources beyond those of SEEK and College Discovery.

  • Receive financial assistance to cover concrete needs, up to and including, monthly MetroCards, winter and summer courses,  emergency funding, housing, and meals.
  • Once student has met the criteria for Youth Matter they are able to choose if they want to part of Success Track. Success Track is a sub-program of Youth Matter that provides students with Life Coaches who commit to helping students achieve their college, career, relationship and personal goals.
  • Allows students to get connected to other students in CUNY campuses through mixers and events, as well as other various network opportunities. 

For more information, contact Youth Matter Program Director, Shirley de Pena at [email protected] 

CUNY ASAP (Accelerated Study in Associate Program)

CUNY’s ASAP assists students in earning associate degrees within three years by providing a range of financial, academic, and personal supports. 

  • Comprehensive and personalized advisement at least twice a month, career counseling, mandatory tutoring, waivers for tuition and mandatory fees (undocumented immigrants cover their own in-state tuition), semester-long MTA MetroCards, and additional financial assistance to defray the cost of textbooks (vouchers).
  • Offers special class scheduling options to ensure students get the classes they need
  • When students approach graduation, they receive special support to help them transfer to 4-year colleges or transition into the  workforce, depending on their goals.
  • Some degrees are not accepted at some CUNY colleges, such as nursing (as they are considered terminal degrees)
  • Students do not have to be first time freshman, so long as they do not have more than 30 college credits
  • A similar model of ASAP was founded at John Jay called ACE.  For more information, check out https://www.jjay.cuny.edu/ace-john-jay.
  • For more information visit http://www1.cuny.edu/sites/asap/ or contact ASAP Outreach and Student Support Specialist Ryan Hamilton at [email protected]  

CUNY START to ASAP Foster Care Initiative

For students who are between 17-21 years of age and currently connected to the NYC foster care system.

  • Benefits offered: academic preparation, enhanced advisement, tuition assistance and financial supports, free unlimited MetroCards, paid on-campus internships, and opportunities for free summer and winter courses
  • For more information, contact Program Coordinator,  Greta Hosford at [email protected]


CUNY Start is an intensive pre-matriculation program for incoming associate degree-seeking college students who need to increase their academic proficiency in reading, writing, and math. CUNY Start allows students to reduce the time they spend in remedial courses and save their financial aid dollars for college-credit classes.

Math Start

Math Start is an intensive 8-week program incoming CUNY students who want to increase their math proficiency before starting credit classes. The program enrolls students who have not passed both math sections of the CUNY Assessment Test (Pre-Algebra and Algebra).


CUNY EDGE, formerly known as the COPE program is a partnership between the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the University that provides matriculated CUNY undergraduate students who receive cash/public assistance resources to achieve academic excellence, graduate on time, and find employment. The program offers a range of services, benefits, and supports so that they succeed in college and in their careers. CUNY EDGE services are provided at all CUNY senior and community colleges across New York City’s five boroughs.

  • Provides structured, effective programming to help students complete their degree
  • Provides ongoing, individualized academic, personal, and career planning support
  • Encourage consistent enrollment in courses each semester and enrollment in intersession classes, as needed.
  • Connects students to work opportunities while in school and provide career development services for job placement after graduation
  • Advisors and other staff members lead a personal and professional development seminar series each semester to assist students with goal-setting, career development, and self-advocacy
  • For more information visit https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/cuny-edge or contact Program Assistant, Jodenis Ramirez at [email protected]


CLIP is an intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) program for immigrant CUNY students who need to improve their academic English language skills before enrolling in credit-bearing coursework. Students will learn reading, writing, and communication skills. Classes meet five hours a day, five days a week, in day or evening sessions.

  • Classes meet for 25 hours per week, day and evening sessions are available
  • Only students who have been admitted to a CUNY college may attend CLIP, including students who wish to learn more English before beginning college coursework or those referred to CLIP by a college advisor
  • Students may be enrolled in CLIP for up to one year
  • Students will not use their financial aid to pay for CLIP fees
  • After students finish the program, a place at the CUNY college to which students were accepted will be reserved for them. Students will receive assistance to make the transition smooth.
  • To enroll in CLIP, students must select and attend a  registration and testing session. You can contact Ramon Tercero at (646) 664-8016 for help with this.
  • There are only 9 campuses who run the CLIP program, but students do not have to enroll in that same school for college 

 For more information visit http://www.clip.cuny.edu/ or contact CLIP Program Coordinator, Ramon Tercero at [email protected]

CUNY Black Male Initiative

As a CUNY-wide initiative, CUNY BMI’s mission is to increase, encourage, and support the inclusion and educational success of students from groups that are severely underrepresented in higher education, in particular African, African American/Black, Caribbean and Latino/Hispanic males.

 For more information visit, http://www1.cuny.edu/sites/bmi/ or contact University Director, Shawn Best at [email protected] 


CUNY LEADS is a unique academic and career program for students with disabilities at the City University of New York. This exciting program is free of charge for all eligible candidates and available on all CUNY campuses. 

For more information visit http://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/sa/services/disabilities/LEADS.html or contact Neurodiversity Advisor, Kristopher Robinson at [email protected]

Does participating in the NYS Opportunity Programs mean I’m going to school for free?

No. While many Opportunity Programs do offer financial aid to students, it is not a requirement of the program. Opportunity Programs are admissions programs – not financial aid programs.

Does applying for financial aid affect my chances of being admitted?

Not usually. You are generally admitted based on your academic performance and the qualities you possess as a student. Some colleges are 100% need-blind in their admissions, whereas others may consider students financial needs as they try to admit a diverse class. Most colleges want diversity and use financial aid to achieve that goal. Applying for financial aid early can help give you the best chance of being admitted with a good aid package because colleges do have a limited amount of funds to award each year.