College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACG)

The overall goal of New York's College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) is to increase the number of low-income, minority and underserved students who are prepared to apply for, get accepted to and succeed in college, with a priority on families living below the poverty-level. Specifically, the goals and objectives of CACG include:

  • Providing students and their families with information regarding college access to increase their participation and enhance their ability to take advantage of CACG activities and services.
  • Identifying and developing local collaborative coalitions to establish and conduct CACG funded programs and services in targeted communities.
  • Providing statewide professional development training to increase and improve the capacity and ability of schools, agencies, financial aid administrators, college admissions counselors and local community organizations to support CACG goals and objectives through their effective and timely assistance to students and parents.
  • Enhancing communication, outreach and oversight of sub-grantees, partners and participating organizations to support their ability to maximize CACG projects, activities and project goals effectively and efficiently by sharing best practices, offering targeted training, services and assistance where necessary.
  • Ensuring compliance with established procedures and systems for the effective administration of CACG funds.

The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) has been serving as the designated administering agency for the State's CACG program since 2008.

2013 CACG Grant Program

New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) received a $6.8 million College Access Challenge Grant to improve college awareness, readiness, and attendance among low-income students in New York. HESC will make grant funds available to community groups and other institutions working directly with at-risk populations that are traditionally underserved.

Currently, regional services and activities provided through CACG sub-grantees include:

  • College readiness, academic skill building, and tutoring programs
  • Stay-in-school support programs for college students at risk for dropping out
  • College admission application and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion assistance
  • Training for college advisors and counselors serving high need, low-income, and educationally at-risk students in the state
  • Family workshops on college financing, completing FAFSA, and applications
  • Debt management and financial literacy workshops; and
  • Extracurricular and summer residence opportunities

For 2013, HESC is taking a comprehensive and coordinated approach to increasing college enrollment and completion among disadvantaged students through intervention strategies and activities including:

  • Expanding the delivery of services that focus on issues of access, retention and re-enrollment to at-risk populations that are traditionally underserved through college access and retention programs;
  • Partnering and coordinating with public and private not-for-profit entities with experience and established track records in successfully helping disadvantaged students achieve their educational goals through the delivery of direct services to students and families that include SAT and GED prep programs; high school mentoring programs; programs that increase expectations of college attendance; high school advisement, including providing information to students and families on postsecondary education benefits, opportunities, planning and career preparation; raise awareness and understanding of the relationship between careers and curricula; student advisement on good study habits; pre-freshman summer institutes to help incoming college students successfully transition to college; and peer-to-peer mentoring;
  • Continuation of activities designed to increase student and family knowledge of the benefits of education; increase student and parent understanding of actual college costs and college affordability; and increase the on-line filing rate of the FAFSA and New York State financial aid applications among at-risk students;
  • Monitoring and reporting on progress toward overall program objectives and goals;
  • Raising awareness of college admission requirements, college affordability, and an understanding of available federal, State and institutional aid;
  • Targeting and actively assisting students in completing the FAFSA;
  • Expanding College Goal Sunday participation among students and their families through enhanced financial support and the offering of greater and more numerous scholarship awards;
  • Enhancing, HESC’s dedicated CACG website, which serves as a resource for students, families, counselors, educators, partners and sub-grantees; and
  • Providing professional development for middle and secondary school counselors, admissions counselors and financial aid professionals.

HESC is partnering with the State University of New York (SUNY), the City University of New York (CUNY) and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) to deliver much needed services to CACG-qualified students and adults across the State of New York.

In addition, to achieve its CACG objectives, HESC will also continue to coordinate with other New York State agencies and non-profit organizations – such as the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), On Point For College and College Goal NY.

Learn More

For Additional Information about the CACG program administered by HESC, contact Jennifer Dwire at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

For information about the overall CACG visit the US Department of Education.