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New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña talks with students about their college plans.

New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña talks with students about their college plans.

New York City waives CUNY application fee for low-income students

Getting into college requires more than good grades and a moving personal essay. It also requires an application fee that can derail plans for students who can’t afford it.

Starting this October, that will no longer be a problem for about 37,500 high school seniors applying to City University of New York schools.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and officials from CUNY announced the elimination of the $65 application fee (for up to six schools) for low-income students.

“We want to see a lot more kids make it,” de Blasio said. “That’s why we’re so focused on making sure the application fee is not an impediment.”

Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, are homeless or in temporary housing, in the child welfare system or whose families receive other kinds of public assistance will be eligible for the waiver. That’s roughly 37,500 current high school seniors, according to figures provided by the city.

“Sixty-five dollars, to a lot of parents, is not a lot of money. To some parents, it’s an unbelievable stumbling block to the best future for their students,” said schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

It’s hard to measure how many students don’t apply to college because of the financial burden. The average college application costs $41 according to U.S. World News and Report — a figure that can add up as students increasingly apply to more schools.

CUNY already offers free applications for about 6,500 needy students per year, including veterans and children aging out of the foster care system. New York City will spend $2 million to expand that number fivefold.

It will be up to school staff to notify students and families who qualify.

“We all know the college application process is a pivotal moment. It’s a fraught moment,” said Vita Rabinowitz, executive vice chancellor and university provost of CUNY. “This can potentially change the trajectory for whole families.”