“The mayor needs to look somewhere else to cut funding. Successful higher education programs should not be on the chopping block.”

William Alatriste/NYC Council

Hostos Community College in The Bronx.

The mayor needs to look somewhere else to cut funding. Successful higher education programs should not be on the chopping block.

As a career specialist working in CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for the last 16 years, I am appalled almost every year when we have to come to City Hall and Albany to prevent our students, programs and colleges from losing funding. CUNY has lost $60 million in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, and now Mayor Adams is proposing even more cuts!

The funding CUNY receives needs to be increased—not cut—so that students can have smaller class sizes, properly staffed labs, and safe learning environments, and so faculty and staff can have the necessary support, supplies and tools to serve our students.

Academic/career/personal development advising are interconnected parts of students’ growth. ASAP graduate students within three years at more than double the rate of students not enrolled in our program because we provide the wraparound services and support that CUNY students need. The same types of services and supports are also provided by CUNY Accelerate, Complete, Engage (ACE), the baccalaureate version of ASAP.

We are a CUNY initiative that has proven to be a successful model: successful enough to be replicated in Westchester County, Ohio, California, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Even with our rapid program expansion and the COVID-19 pandemic, ASAP continues to graduate more than double the rate of non-program affiliated first-time, full-time students in three years. It has served more than 88,000 students since its inception.

Why cut funding to the university and the programs that are good enough for six other states and one county to replicate?

The strength of ASAP and ACE depends on the ability of the college to hire qualified, experienced faculty and staff to deliver the services our students need. The number of students serviced by the ASAP program is 25,000 per year, and the service they rate as the most important factor in their success is the academic and career advisement that they receive.

Academic and career advising are critical services students need to make the most of their college experience, as they acquire the knowledge and competencies that will ensure their career success—and make them strong contributors to our workforce and tax base.

It is a known fact that many CUNY students don’t come prepared for college life. They are often first-generation students whose families don’t have the experience to navigate a college bureaucracy. They have financial constraints; work jobs to support their families and need advice to deal with the complex issues they face on a daily basis.

But they have the right to receive a quality education—with the appropriate supporting services—just like anyone living in the suburbs.

More faculty, staff, academic and career advisors are needed throughout CUNY. My ASAP and ACE colleagues wear many hats as we serve a high number of students. Often, we are the only people our students have in their lives who can offer them recommendations, empathy, and the guidance they need. Without us they wouldn’t know how to access the resources available to help them overcome the barriers that prevent them from graduating.

We work in interdisciplinary teams. Our students receive comprehensive and personalized advisement, tutoring, career development services, and early engagement opportunities to be part of a connected community. Our framework is rooted in a theory of action that assumes that college success is based in three interrelated constructs: students’ ability to gain and maintain academic momentum, the development of college integration and belonging, and the ability to access timely and relevant support services.

CUNY needs funding to continue providing a quality education and advisement services. We need to continue offering our students the opportunity of breaking out of the poverty cycle and become successful, fully realized individuals.

Berkis Cruz-Eusebio is a career and employment specialist at Hostos Community College and a proud PSC CUNY member