Study reveals students struggle to graduate at CUNY

The Center for an Urban Future released a study which depicts people in Queens failing to graduate on time at CUNY institutions.
TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

The non-profit research organization Center for an Urban Future has released a study in which it found too few students from Queens and across the city graduate from both community and four-year colleges in the CUNY system on time or leave without credentials, based on graduation data from 2010 to 2017.

At LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City and Queensborough Community College in Bayside, only 22 percent of students at each school completed an associate’s degree within three years, according to the study based on 2013 graduation data.

The CUNY system has 11 senior and comprehensive colleges, schools with both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, and of those schools 2010 data showed only one — Baruch College in Manhattan — as having a graduation rate of over 70 percent within six years.

While Queens College in Flushing had the second highest graduation rate, it fell short of the 70 percent mark with only 64 percent of students obtaining degrees in six years, according to the data. York College fared worse with only 41 percent of its students obtaining a degree within the same time period. Baruch, which topped the list, had a 71 percent graduation rate.

The study also looked at data from the 2011-2015 U.S. Census Bureau. According to the bureau’s American Community Survey five-year estimates, only 30.4 percent of adults 25 and older who live in Queens had a bachelor’s degree by 2015. This placed the borough fourth in the city, leaving it only ahead of the Bronx, where 18.9 percent had a four-year degree

Manhattan residents headed the list with 59.9 percent in bachelor’s degree attainment, Brooklyn came in second with 32.8 percent, and Staten Island was third with 30.8 percent achievement.

Major contributing factors for the lack of a degree within three to six years was low-family income and poor college readiness, according to the study released Dec. 5.

According to the study, the students who struggled to complete a degree on time often came from a family making less than $31,000 or were lacking guidance on how to navigate college life academically and socially.

In terms of finance, 2016 data showed 64 percent of Queensborough students had families who earned less than $31,000, while 51 percent of Queens College students faced the same challenges. When it came to college readiness, school counselors who help to guide incoming students only made up 2.3 percent of a school’s budget.

CUNY schools also have a majority of minority students, according to the study. Students of color make up 85 percent of its community colleges and 79 percent of its four-year colleges.

Tom Hillard, the economic fellow who authored the report, said the lack of degree completion within six years is troubling, especially as attaining one has now become the basis for economic success in the 21st century.

“If New York is serious about reducing inequality and helping more residents get on the path to the middle class, we absolutely need to address the city’s college success problems,” said Hilliard. “CUNY has made some important progress in improving graduation rates in recent years, but there’s still an enormous problem when nearly eight in 10 students at the city’s community colleges fail to earn an on-time credential.”

Freddi Goldstein, the mayor’s press secretary for education, however, noted his administration is and will continue to make big investments in CUNY schools to help them improve.

Investments from his office will help the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs initiative at CUNY, which served 4,000 in the 2014-2015 school year, serve 25,000 in the 2017-2018 school year, according to Goldstein.

The ASAP expansion will focus on STEM-majors, according to the mayor’s office. The ASAP program has also graduated 50 percent of its students within three years.

For fiscal year 2018 the city will invest $169 million in CUNY community colleges, which will grow to $213 million in 2021, said Goldstein.

Goldstein said four other CUNY programs will receive $10 million by fiscal year 2019. This includes the CUNY Start Math Expansion geared to 4,000 prospective students interested in STEM, professional career development in the NYPD through the Academic Preparation Program for Law Enforcement Corps, CUNY Prep for out-of-school youth and the Fatherhood Academy at LaGuardia for young adult fathers 18 to 24, which provides GED prep, college exploration and job workshops.

“This administration has dedicated significant resources to helping New Yorkers obtain a degree from CUNY, including greatly expanding the ASAP program, which has more than doubled associate degree completion rates for participating students,” said Goldstein.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Posted 12:00 am, December 14, 2017
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

Tom from Queens says:
What should anyone expect when Bloombag lowered standards for 12 years straight.
Dec. 14, 2017, 11:27 pm
School is easy from Queens says:
Most kids ar coming out stupider than when they first started. Everytime I turn around my child is off from school. Its so ridiculous. Then mayor dumbdumb added even more holidays to the school calendar and didn't add anymore days of school onto the school year. Its bad enough the teachers don't work for half of the year. My daughter had 4 different math teachers last year and the board of education allowed that to happen. My daughter doesn't even get homework hardly. I remember when I went to high school, I had three hours of homework every night practically and I worked a part time job too. Nowadays, kids get no homework and are too lazy to get part time jobs anymore. Society is changing but not for the better.
Dec. 15, 2017, 3:51 pm
School is easy from Queens says:
Dec. 15, 2017, 3:52 pm
Sophia from Bayside says:
Community colleges are wrost they make kids waste time on all those basic class .CUNY needs to get ready of that and they need some new professors.
Dec. 15, 2017, 11:18 pm
American Education from Is a Failure says:
Immigrants do not perform well in English comprehension, citizens do not perform well in math and science.
Dec. 20, 2017, 12:01 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.


Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: