Study upon study tells us that a college degree is necessary to provide the social mobility that can bring a student out of a difficult life situation and into a successful one. For more than 50 years, SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) has made it possible for talented students who have limited financial resources and are academically underprepared to attend a SUNY college, earn a degree, and achieve their life goals. It has set the standards for educational access and success, transforming the lives of more than 75,000 graduates across SUNY. Although we hear about the program often, we don’t all know the details of how it operates and how it succeeds. So let’s dive in to the SUNY EOP program to get familiar with how it serves us all.
The EOP is a constant in producing successful graduates that give back to the state of New York. It continues to do more for more students in need, and as recent as two years ago the program expanded to reach 48 SUNY schools, including 19 community colleges, across New York State. It enables students to realize their full potential by capitalizing on the strengths they find in comprehensive services and personalized support throughout the college journey. These services include:
We see the benefits these support programs that are available to all SUNY EOP students bring to those students. The program produces success rates above the average of all students. 82% of first-year students return for their sophomore years and 73% of all EOP students complete a Bachelor’s Degree within 6 years. That graduation number far exceeds the national average, which stands at 59.3% for public universities.
After all those students graduate, they are able to make a difference. According to the New York State Department of Labor, 72% of SUNY EOP alumni are living and working in New York State, adding to the economic impact SUNY provides the state. Because of these results, we can see that the EOP is the best vehicle for breaking the poverty cycle in New York.
50 years of success makes the EOP a much more recognizable vehicle to student success. However, each year the program has a limited capacity so early submission of documentation is strongly advised. EOP enrolls approximately 3,000 first-time, full-time freshmen each year and boasts more than 75,000 alumni. It is one of the highest performing college access programs in the country.
With so much interest in the EOP, and such strong support from New York State leaders in government, the EOP program is on solid footing to continue to impact more students as they work toward a college degree.
Taras Kufel is the Manager of Digital Engagement at the State University of New York.