Access Grant(ed)

Cartoon by Stefanie Diers.

In a world where higher education costs are on the rise, the ability to afford public university tuition is getting harder than ever before. What started off as incremental, inflationary increases to college costs have rapidly spiraled out of control.

Now, the average SUNY student loan debt for a four-year bachelor’s degree is approximately $24,503. To most, this figure is a nearly insurmountable burden and can throw off the trajectory of millions of young Americans seeking to pursue their dreams with the assistance of higher education.

Those who are most affected by this unfortunate fact are those in the middle class and certainly those who come from challenging backgrounds. The social mobility that this country prides itself on, the mere opportunity to grow and succeed, is dwindling right before our eyes. With each passing day it becomes more difficult to actualize the dreams that inspire millions.

We at The New Paltz Oracle are encouraged to see the increased funding toward the Educational Opportunity Program, (EOP), received this past week. We think this increase will give students with educational disadvantages the chance to achieve the goals they strive for.

The program will also hire a new advisor, which provides students with support and guidance throughout the college experience. Additionally, EOP contributes to campus diversity, provides workshops to keep students on track and has brought numerous student leaders to our campus.

Now that there is additional funding in this program, it is important for more students to recognize its existence. Over 500 students are currently in the EOP, reflecting its effectiveness and usefulness. But you have to apply, you can’t just walk in.

By receiving an extra $290,000, the EOP has expanded its student capacity by 100. This means that an additional 100 first-year students who have financial difficulties can receive the help they deserve. This will allow them to climb to higher levels of education along with their peers and  not be held back by outside factors, such as insufficient funds.

Considering the fact that over 40,000 students have graduated with the help of EOP since its inception in the 1960s, the second most in the SUNY system, this is great news for New Paltz. These students can now receive assistance to keep them on pace with other students without losing out on any learning investments.

During an era where competition is more intense than ever, utilizing the EOP is necessary for some students. These are the students that have the ambition and talent to chase their dreams but may not have the financial means to do it. The EOP closes that gap and puts them on par with the other students so they don’t miss out on graduation day. We feel it is best to use every power the school offers its students to become the best they can be. In the end, it is a tool to future success stories.

Editorials represent the views of the majority of the editorial board. Columns, op-eds and letters, excluding editorials, are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The New Paltz Oracle, its staff members, the campus and university or the Town or Village of New Paltz.