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Skidmore College
Opportunity Program (OP)

History of the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)

In 1966, the Governor and the Legislature approved a bill to provide access to higher education for the “educationally and economically disadvantaged” students in New York State. The program known as Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (SEEK) was begun at The City University of New York (CUNY). The College Discovery Program, which was already in existence at community colleges in New York City, was continued, and the State University of New York (SUNY) started the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). In 1969, legislation established the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) at independent colleges and universities in New York State. In 2006, the Governor and the Legislature approved a name change in honor of the important role former Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve played in increasing access to higher education in New York State.

In general, students in opportunity programs have high potential for collegiate success but come from low-income backgrounds where their educational preparation is not on par with the majority of their matriculating peers in college due to the inequality of resources. Students eligible for HEOP will generally rank lower on traditional measures of college admissions such as SAT or ACT scores. Therefore, opportunity programs employ various support strategies to meet the special needs of students from such backgrounds; such strategies include testing, pre-freshman summer programs, counseling, tutoring, coursework, and financial assistance.

Opportunity programs are available for students living in urban and rural areas. They are available at two and four year levels, at public and independent colleges, and in every academic discipline and career field. Students are selected without regard to age, color, religion, creed, disability, marital status, veteran status, national origin, race, gender, genetic predisposition or carrier status, or sexual orientation.


What is HEOP?

The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) provides supportive services and financial aid to New York State residents attending independent colleges and universities in New York State.


Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for HEOP you must meet all of the following conditions. You must:

  1. Have been a resident of New York State for one year preceding your term of entry into HEOP.
  2. Possess a high school diploma or a State-approved equivalency diploma (with a composite score not higher than 3100) or its equivalent. The equivalent of a general equivalency diploma is defined as being one of the following:
    1. An Armed Forces Equivalency Diploma, with a minimum score of 410 on each test section and a minimum composite score of 2250?
    2. A level of knowledge and academic ability equal to the level required for entrance to the educational opportunity program at the institution to which the individual seeks admission.
  3. Be educationally disadvantaged. An educationally disadvantaged student is a student who otherwise would not be accepted as a matriculated student under the institution’s normal admissions standards in the degree program for which application is made. At open admissions institutions, an educationally disadvantaged student must meet one of the following criteria:
    1. Possess a high school equivalency diploma? or b) Possess the equivalent of a GED? or
    2. Have no high school diploma? or
    3. Meet other acceptable academic criteria, which differentiate the HEOP student from regularly admitted students (e.g., lower test scores, lower GED scores).
  4. Have the potential and motivation for successful completion of college.
  5. Be economically disadvantaged. (See section titled “Economic Eligibility Criteria for Opportunity Programs.)
  6. Have been in an approved opportunity program (if a transfer student).