CUNY Starts Spring 2023 Semester by Exceeding its Re-enrollment Goal and Adding 14,433 Returning Students!

The City University of New York

Dear Commons Community,

The City University of New York yesterday announced that 14,433 students have signed up for classes at the University this 2022-23 academic year through CUNY Reconnect, surpassing the initiative’s goal of enrolling 10,000 returning students. With this milestone, CUNY welcomes back students who earned some college credit but left before earning a degree along with many students who graduated high school but were unable to enroll in college due to personal circumstances stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, launched at the start of the Fall 2022 Semester, was proposed by New York City Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams and funded, following the Council’s advocacy, with a budget allocation of $4.4 million.

“Our vision for CUNY Reconnect was to help working-age New Yorkers re-enroll in college to attain degrees that enhance their economic opportunities,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “I’m elated that this groundbreaking initiative has surpassed its initial goal to help New Yorkers advance their education and careers. I am thankful for CUNY’s partnership and especially proud of the returning students who have taken advantage of the program. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure this initiative continues to empower more New Yorkers.”

“It is with great pride that we welcome the more than 14,000 students who have returned to CUNY or are first time students who paused their education after high school due to the pandemic. By furthering their education, they are preparing themselves to secure better-paying jobs and will lead the continued revitalization of our city,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “Through CUNY Reconnect, former students receive personalized support to connect them to the opportunities for socioeconomic mobility that the University continues to provide as part of its mission. We are grateful to Speaker Adams and the City Council for supporting CUNY’s mission to uplift New Yorkers.”

CUNY’s spring semester begins today, January 25, at most of its colleges but Reconnect outreach workers have been busy connecting with former students over the winter break. The biggest gains were in Queens, where 29% of the new enrollees live, followed by 26% in Brooklyn, 21% in the Bronx, 10% in Manhattan and 5% in Staten Island. An additional 8% reside outside of the city. By ethnicity, 34% of re-enrolled students identify as Hispanic, 32% Black, 17% white and 16% Asian or Pacific Islander. The Borough of Manhattan Community College signed up the most students through the program, followed by Queensborough Community College and Queens College.

Yoslin Reyes, 21, is returning to Queensborough Community College today after a four-year pause. “A lot of people feel like they want to finish their degree but they don’t know where to start. That’s what happened to me,” said Reyes, who stopped taking classes in 2019 when pregnant. A Reconnect specialist helped her reapply, complete financial aid forms and switch her major to health sciences. “I went back to college for my daughter. I need to be able to provide for her financially.”

CUNY Reconnect hired a team of navigators to work with prospective students and provide personalized support for their re-enrollment. These navigators, who speak six languages, guide prospective students through program selection and help them locate student support services and understand their financial aid options. Resources include access to small scholarships and streamlined access to the University’s 17 child care centers. Navigators meet monthly to discuss the barriers they are encountering in their outreach, so that strategies can be adjusted.

During the Fall semester, Speaker Adams visited York College — where she began her college studies —  as CUNY unveiled plans for a welcome center on the Jamaica, Queens, campus. The center, part of the broader CUNY Reconnect initiative, will help working adults refine their higher education aspirations and career goals.

CUNY promoted the CUNY Reconnect initiative through a TV and digital ad featuring Veronica Wanzer who gave up on college in her 20s but reconsidered 30 years later when she could not obtain a well-paying job without a degree. She was welcomed at York College where she became active with student government and a leader in the Center for Students with Disabilities. Her CUNY undergrad experience was so fulfilling that she is now seeking a master’s degree at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

Former students who are interested in re-enrolling in college can learn more through CUNY Reconnect here

Congratulations to all those involved with this program!

Tony

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