Suffolk County Community College's Ammerman Campus in Selden. Recruitment at SCCC...

Suffolk County Community College's Ammerman Campus in Selden. Recruitment at SCCC and NCC will begin this fall for 50 participants each to join ASAP in January. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Nassau and Suffolk community colleges will offer funding of around $2,000 a year to 150 full-time lower-income freshmen in each school as part of an expanded SUNY program to boost timely graduation rates, SUNY officials announced Tuesday.

ASAP, or Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, will help pay for tuition, textbooks and expenses like gas while providing intensified advising and tutoring to students who might otherwise face obstacles to their full-time study. While most of the money will come from the state, the colleges will use their funds to pay for 10%, officials said.

Only a quarter of Suffolk County Community College’s students received their associate degree within three years, according to the college’s most recent data. For community colleges nationally, that percentage is even lower.

ASAP began in 2007 and has proven successful in CUNY campuses and at Westchester Community College. It has now been expanded to 24 additional community colleges statewide, including those on Long Island, officials announced Tuesday. 

Farmingdale State College is participating in a similar program for four-year SUNY institutions called ACE. That plan, said Provost Laura Joseph, is to recruit new full-time students for next spring and fall semesters. It joins other existing programs aimed at supporting lower-income and underrepresented minority students. The ACE program “will remove financial barriers to allow them to focus more fully on their academics,” Joseph said.

The ASAP and ACE programs “have a proven record of boosting student success by focusing on academic achievement and student support that’s been documented across seven states and numerous campuses,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. “Through the SUNY Transformation Fund, we will give 3,750 students across 25 participating campuses a far better chance at success and graduation by giving them the support they need to succeed.”

Recruitment at NCC and SCCC will begin this fall for 50 participants each to join ASAP in January, and an additional 100 each to join next fall, school officials said. Students must be eligible for but not receiving EOP grants, but can be receiving Pell Grants and TAP, said Liesl Jones, vice president of academic affairs at SCCC, where the program will be called Suffolk RISE.

“The idea is we’re going to help students rise and be successful,” she said, adding that part-time freshmen or students with fewer than 12 credits can apply this fall to enter the program in January. “We’ll be sending letters to all eligible students.”

She said the college wants to raise funds through donations and grants to cover more than the 150 initially funded through ASAP, and that SUNY also is looking to expand it.

The goal, she said, is for at least 75 of the first 150 participants to graduate in two years, with the remainder graduating in three years. 

“I think this will be a game-changer for all students,” she said, noting that the funding will pay for additional tutors available to all students.

At NCC, acting President Maria Conzatti said the college intends to serve students “who present academic and financial need, as well as underrepresented communities such as minority women, Black and African American males, and first-generation college students who may not be eligible for other college opportunity programs.”

Participants will receive stipends “to support tuition, transportation, school supplies and supplemental food assistance,” she said. ASAP builds on the college’s Guided Pathways program, which identifies at-risk students to receive support services for “on-time college completion,” Conzatti said.

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