November 30, 2011
Dear Queens College Student, Faculty and Staff Members:
Since our founding in the depths of the Depression, Queens College has been committed to providing students with a high-quality education that prepares them for successful lives and careers. The world has changed dramatically since 1937, but we know that many of our students today experience the same economic challenges as our inaugural class. Our students work, support families, and juggle complicated schedules to attend QC.
I want to assure everyone in our community that offering an affordable, high-quality education for even the financially neediest student remains our core value. The tuition agreement just passed by the CUNY Board of Trustees—a gradual $150/semester increase for the next five years—has not changed our commitment to this principle, which speaks to the very heart and essence of what we are. And so you can be sure that we will do everything possible to lessen any impact the tuition increase may have on our most financially vulnerable students—whether by offering enhanced financial aid counseling, work-study jobs, private scholarships or other opportunities.
Among first-time freshmen attending Queens College full time, nearly three-quarters (73%) received financial aid. Last fall, 41% of our 16,195 undergraduates received federal Pell grants and 32.6% received state Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) aid. Many received both. For students who are awarded the maximum TAP grant, the $300 annual tuition increase will be completely covered, and students who receive partial TAP funding will pay only a portion of the increase.
Most important, for the first time, the additional revenue from the new tuition agreement will stay at QC, allowing us to enhance student services and academic programs, hire more faculty and ensure that all the courses that students need to take will be available to them. Naturally, the focus remains on our students. We want to build our Career Services area and expand internship opportunities during these difficult economic times. We also plan to strengthen academic advising and other kinds of support to boost retention and ensure our students’ success right up to graduation. And we see a need for increased counseling, health, wellness and disability services—especially for students who do not have health insurance.
I’m glad to report that active fundraising has increased philanthropic giving to QC by 20% over the past six years. Student scholarships remain our top priority, and we are succeeding there, too: the number and size of scholarships Queens College has awarded has grown over the last few years, thanks to contributions from alumni, foundations, and other wise donors who recognize the value of supporting our very purposeful, hard-working students. Last year alone, we awarded approximately $2.3 million in privately funded student scholarships, and we anticipate that sum will continue to grow.
Every year, Queens College is recognized by The Princeton Review as one of America’s “Best Value Colleges” because of our outstanding academic quality, generous financial aid packages and relatively low costs. Our students graduate with little or no debt, primarily because we have one of the lowest in-state tuition rates among all public universities in the region. Our tuition is also lower than other public universities beyond New York, including University of Maryland ($6,966 per year), Penn State ($15,124) and Rutgers ($10,104). For more details on the incomparable value of a CUNY education, take a few moments to visit http://www.cuny.edu/about/info/value.html.
I am especially proud that the Education Trust, a research and advocacy group that examined data from nearly 1,200 four-year colleges, identified QC as one of only five colleges in the U.S. that does a good job serving low-income students. This designation was based on our low tuition, amount of need-based financial aid we award to students, and the fact that more than 50 percent of our students graduate within six years. As pleased as we are to receive this accolade, we are reaching higher: We want every one of our students to graduate, and so this semester we launched a Foundation of Excellence project with the John Gardner Institute to improve the first-year experience of our freshmen and transfer students. Nearly 100 faculty, staff and students are participating. The lessons we learn will be used to improve all of our academic programs and services for students.
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 of modest means. A large number are among the first in their families to attend college. We take great pride in making a high-quality education accessible to everyone, and will work closely with all students, regardless of financial status, to help them reach the first step towards achieving their dream: a Queens College diploma.