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Department of Special Programs

Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program


The Department of Special Programs houses the Percy Ellis Sutton Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (SEEK) Program, a major CUNY initiative. Created by the Board of Higher Education of The City University in 1964, SEEK targets students who require financial and academic support to complete a college education. SEEK students receive up to ten semesters of economic and academic support while meeting the requirements for a baccalaureate degree.

SEEK’s mission is to help students overcome social, academic, and economic barriers to the pursuit of their education through the provision of individual and group counseling, comprehensive academic support services, and financial aid counseling and support. In addition, the program helps students develop strategies to explore academic, career, and interpersonal issues related to their educational goals. Academic support services, individual and group counseling, and financial aid, including a book stipend, up to three summer stipends, and additional semesters of financial aid, are provided to Department of Special Programs-SEEK students through the New York State Higher Education Opportunity Program Act.

SEEK’s objectives are:

  1. To provide a permanent and structured program of special assistance to selected students who can utilize supportive services to assist them in their efforts to obtain a quality college education and to expand the career and social options available to them.

  2. To provide, by means of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, a range of intensive supportive services to help Special Programs students successfully meet the challenge of college study.

  3. To explore, develop, and demonstrate innovative techniques to enable students to achieve their academic goals.

SEEK Counseling

The SEEK Program provides individual/small-group counseling to all SEEK students. First and second-year students meet with counselors once a week in SEEK Counseling Courses (SP/C, AGRO, or SPAE). These courses are structured forums in which students explore topics that facilitate their adjustment to college, provide information about career and graduate school opportunities, and promote participation in community outreach activities. All SEEK students can meet with their counselors on an individual basis for academic advisement and personal and career counseling.

The primary goal of SEEK counseling is to develop, monitor and assess programs that help students successfully meet the challenges of college-level work, overcome their educational limitations, and enhance their ability to perform as students and as individuals. Student achievement, retention, and satisfactory progress toward degree completion are the basic objectives of the SEEK Program.


To apply for admission to the SEEK Program, an applicant should complete the “Special Programs” section of the CUNY application. In accordance with State Education Law, an individual is eligible for admission to the SEEK Program if he/she meets the following criteria:

  1. Is economically disadvantaged.

  2. Is educationally disadvantaged.

  3. Is a graduate of an approved high school or has attained a New York high school equivalency diploma or its equivalent as determined by the Commissioner of Education of the State of New York.

  4. Has not previously attended a college or university, except in the case of students enrolled in the HEOP or EOP programs, or veterans who may have earned up to 18 credits of college-level work prior to entrance into the service (except for USAFI and service-connected University of Maryland credits).

  5. Has resided in New York State for one year prior to the semester for which he or she is applying and has met the test for “bona fide domicile.”

After acceptance into a CUNY college, SEEK applicants must submit a copy of their Federal Income Tax Return, Form 1040, and other supporting documentation to verify income eligibility and residence. Applications are available at individual CUNY College Financial Aid Offices and online at: (See Financial Aid section in this catalog for further information)

If you are accepted into SEEK, you will be required to show proof of having filed for Pell and TAP prior to being awarded any Special Programs financial assistance.

The following items are required proof:

  1. Electronic notification to CUNY

  2. “Student Notification” sent to you by the Pell Grant processor

  3. TAP Award Certificate

Academic Eligibility

An applicant is academically eligible for SEEK if he/she:

  1. has received a general equivalency diploma, or

  2. has a high school academic average of less than 80% or ranks at the 65th or lower percentile of his/her graduating class.

Economic Eligibility

A student is considered economically disadvantaged if he or she is a member of a household whose total annual income falls within the limits indicated in the economic guidelines chart below. All economic eligibility criteria apply to the calendar year prior to the academic year of first entry to college. For 2018-19, it is the 2016 calendar year.

Fall 2018

Number in Household Estimated Gross Annual Family Income: Including Head of Household:

  1. $22,311

  2. $30,044

  3. $37,777

  4. $45,510

  5. $53,243

  6. $60,976

  7. $68,709

  8. $76,442

*Plus $7,733 for family members in excess of eight (8)
An applicant is economically eligible if the applicant is part of a household where any member is a recipient of public assistance.

The foregoing eligibility requirements, except those relating to economic need and residency, shall not apply to students who have been determined eligible for entry to the SEEK Program by virtue of their satisfactory completion of the College Discovery Program.

In program standards, maintenance of SEEK status requires that a student:

  1. registers as a full-time student each semester

  2. enrolls in group counseling each semester

  3. files a financial aid form annually, and

  4. attends tutoring

For further information on admissions procedures and eligibility, please telephone the University Office of Admission Services at 212 947-4800 or the Director of Special Programs at 718 270-4973.