As spring gets into gear, we prepare for the newness of it all. Some of that is the new journey many students will begin as they make their college decisions known on May 1, College Signing Day. This new journey will come with some unknowns. But there are resources at SUNY that can help students complete a college degree with minimal hardships and be prepared for a successful life and career after graduation.
With the month of April being Financial Literacy Month, there’s no better time to reflect on personal finances and take some time to better educate ourselves on money management so we know what options we have that can help ensure long-term financial wellness.
At SUNY, we believe that a college education is an investment in your future, and we guarantee a quality education with tuition rates and fees among the lowest in the country. SUNY was created out of a commitment to opportunity and access, and leaders across the SUNY system work hard to keep the cost of a SUNY education affordable and attainable for everyone, no matter what your financial situation is.
These resources are making a difference for students in the classroom, and in their wallets:
Along with the academic journey, SUNY is committed to educating and empowering students to help tackle and improve finances as well. SUNY Smart Track® is an online tool designed to improve financial literacy and offers courses on everything from budgeting to borrowing to managing credit. Smart Track® is a free service that has been available to SUNY students since 2012. It helps guide SUNY students to borrow responsibly by providing calculators to determine expenses and loan costs as well as information about applying to college and paying back loans.
Within Smart Track® are the Financial Literacy Tools, a series of online education programs and resources to help students learn about managing finances that were created through a partnership with Inceptia, a division of National Student Loan Program. These tools are available for all current students, prospective students who have been accepted to a SUNY school but not yet committed, and even high school students who are beginning the college search process and want to learn about how the cost of college affects personal finances before making that final decision.
Smart Track® provides help in every step of the way through college, proving that SUNY is a smart investment and a sound economical decision.
The Excelsior Scholarship Program has opened the door for thousands of students to receive a top quality higher education at any of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities and further supports SUNY’s mission of accessibility and affordability to all. In combination with other student financial aid programs, it provides a gateway to lower-income and middle-class students to attend a SUNY college tuition-free. This year, New Yorkers with household incomes up to $125,000 are eligible. In order to receive the funding, students must be enrolled in college full-time and complete 30 credits per year. However, if any student faces hardship and is unable to complete the credits in the academic year, there is the option to pause and restart the program. For a more in depth analysis of the program, you can visit the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation.
Throughout New York State, there are many students who have the potential to succeed but may not be able to for financial or personal reasons. Those are students that the state refuses to let slip by. Support programs like the Educational Opportunity Program are available to help students meet their potential despite certain hardships. In the recent FY2020 budget passed by the New York State legislature, opportunity programs at SUNY have renewed with a strong focus on student success with nearly $100 million dollars being made to support the Educational Opportunity Program, Educational Opportunity Centers, and ATTAIN labs across New York.
EOP, which has been in operation since 1967, serves nearly 11,000 students on 48 of SUNY’s 64 campuses and boasts more than 75,000 alumni who all give back to their communities. According to the Department of Labor, 72% of EOP alumni are living and working in New York State, enriching our economic and social fabric. The program produces success rates above the average of all students with 73% of all EOP students completing a Bachelor’s Degree within 6 years, a number that far exceeds the national average for public universities.
Collectively, these resources provide students with many opportunities and resources to lead a life that is secure financially and well planned out to keep students from being overcome with debt and unable to advance in their careers. During Financial Literacy Month, take time to become familiar with your expenses and what you can do to gain strong financial management skills.