NEW YORK—Bilingual students at the City University of New York could soon participate in a work-study program that would pay for half of their tuitions.
City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said on August 1 that she will make the proposal a reality when she becomes mayor.
Student who participate in the program will first be trained and certified as interpreters and then placed in part-time job in city agencies. The pay from the work will cover half the annual CUNY tuition, or $2865, for each student.
The program will be available to 100 students in the first year. Quinn estimates the program to cost approximately $300,000 in the first year, and, as the program becomes available to more students, $1.1 million in the fourth year.
“The program expands language accessibility for New Yorkers and city government and provides new opportunities for students.” said Quinn.
Existing full-time interpreters will not be replaced by the part-time CUNY work-study staff, Quinn promised. The new interpreters will be an addition to the translation services the city provides at its various agencies.
Spanish and Chinese speakers make up the largest segment of New York City foreign language speakers. According to a press release from Quinn’s office, approximately 95 percent of all translation services at city agencies are provided in nine languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, french, Haitian Creole, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.
“We consistently tell our students what a benefit it is to be bilingual and bicultural in this country,” Pablo Villavicencio, principal of Bronx Bridges, a high school for immigrants who do not speak English, said.
Almost 60 percent of CUNY freshmen reported that they speak a language other than English at home, according to a press release from Quinn’s office.
A city program already exists which provides CUNY students with part-time jobs at the 3-1-1 call center. The poll-worker initiative at CUNY also offers jobs to CUNY students during elections.
CUNY offers one of the lowest tuition costs nationwide. CUNY students received 1.1 billion in financial aid during the 2010-2011 academic year.