The Opportunity Isn’t for All EOP provides resources for some students and leaves some begging for more loans
By Kevin Mercado
The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) on campus provides economically disadvantaged college applicants a fair opportunity to apply and get accepted into a university that they could not ordinarily afford.
According to the SUNY website, a student’s household income cannot surpass $21,978 for a household size of one, $29,637 for a household size of two, 37,296 for a household size of three, and so on.
The qualifications for an EOP applicant are far lower than that of the average student. The University at Albany grade qualification requirement is between 80 and 89, or a general B average.
In theory, the EOP program has plenty of quality attributes, providing students who do not have many benefits an equal chance to earn a good education. I don’t disbelieve that the EOP should not exist entirely. It offers a helping hand for those who did not believe that they could make it this far.
“This program is one that provides life changing support that cultivates students from less fortunate backgrounds into successful professionals and leaders after graduation,” SUNY blog writer James Sanchez says.
However, I believe that the qualifications limit some students who are not able to apply through the EOP program.
“EOP could be problematic due to the nature of taking both income and grades into play. By taking someone of similar income and excluding them due to academic excellence,” 21-year-old communications major, Alexander Lopez, says.
I have to agree with Lopez. It is easy to see how the program offers immense support for those who cannot afford higher education nor have the grades to get in. But, there are students on campus who may fit one or the other, but not both. Now we must shift our attention to those who have the qualifying grades to get into the university traditionally but do not have the finances readily available to afford college.
Because GPA is also factored into whether a student can apply for the EOP program, a student who has above average grades loses a chance at one of 2,500 spots open, despite being in a low income household with the inability to afford school without the need for thousands of dollars in loans.
It is also worth mentioning that students in the EOP program also get extra grant money, including stipends for books to help alleviate the costs of education. Meanwhile, traditional students are forced to either pay the pricey cost of textbooks at the bookstore or find alternative means to get a book cheap from a third party vendor.
Lopez compared EOP to Affirmative Action, a bill that allows minorities to have a fair chance in college admissions and the workplace. The downside to Affirmative Action is that it may pool a collection of minority people who may not be as qualified as their white counterparts.
Similarly, EOP is a smaller pool of students with specific, albeit somewhat underwhelming, characteristics that denies other, more qualified students of the financial benefits that they might need.
This is not to say that EOP has done it all wrong. It provides a wonderful outlet to achieve the same level of success as a student who can get into school based on his or her merit alone.
But I’ll say it: I want to reap the financial benefits that the EOP students get to have, too. Money is just as hard to come by for me and I don’t think I am alone in saying that I believe other students should also get some extra financial advantage, especially when their income fits the bill for an EOP student.
The fight to be fair isn’t quite there.