Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)

The Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) is a partnership between Russell Sage College and the New York State Education Department (NYSED). HEOP is designed to provide broad and varied educational opportunities to capable students who, due to limited academic and financial resources, would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend Sage.

Once admitted to the HEOP program, students are provided with financial assistance, counseling, tutoring, advising and other support services throughout their college career. Our goal is to retain and graduate promising students who will succeed at Sage and beyond.

How do I know if I am eligible?

In order to be eligible for Sage’s HEOP program you must satisfy both academic and financial criteria. You may be considered for the HEOP program if you:

  • are a New York State resident for at least 12 months prior to enrollment.
  • are a graduate of a high school approved and accredited by NYSED or have a New York State equivalency diploma.
  • have a high school GPA and/or test below the regular admission guidelines.
  • demonstrate proven potential and an eagerness to succeed in a post-secondary program.
  • meet both the educational and economic guidelines established by NYSED.

The HEOP Admission Committee will consider applicants who demonstrate strong academic potential but who fall below general admission requirements. Please contact the Office of Admission or the HEOP Office for more information.

Financial Eligibility

Financial eligibility for HEOP at Russell Sage College is determined by the HEOP Executive Director and the Director of Financial Aid, utilizing guidelines set by the New York State Education Department. To be considered, the applicant must meet the economic criteria established by the New York State Education Department. All income must be verified by the submission of appropriate documentation.

New York State Education Department HEOP Income Eligibility
(for students first entering college between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021)
Household Size Annual Income
1 $12,490 – 23,107
2 $16,910 – 31,284
3 $21,330 – 39,461
4 $25,750 – 47,638
5 $30,170 – 55,815
6 $34,590 – 63,992
7 $39,010 – 72,169
8 $43,430 – 80,346

Source: New York State Department of Education

The Seven-Step HEOP Application Procedure for First-year Students

  1. Submit an online Sage Application or the Common Application in mid-February but no later than April 1, along with the following documents :
      • official high school transcript
      • SAT or ACT scores
      • letter of recommendation from a counselor or teacher
      • personal statement

    For pre-eligibility determination, fill out the HEOP EZ Eligibility Worksheet and return it by mail or fax according to the instructions on the form.

  2. Admission staff reviews your application and forwards it to the HEOP Office if you qualify for admission.
  3. The HEOP Office sends you a letter of introduction and an EZ Eligibility Worksheet.
  4. Complete and return the EZ Pre-Eligibility Worksheet to the HEOP Office.
  5. HEOP program staff reviews your application for academic fit and financial eligibility.
  6. If you qualify for HEOP, we will invite you to attend the on-campus HEOP Interview and Testing Day. You will submit financial documentation required by the HEOP Office during your interview.
  7. HEOP staff reviews your application and we notify you about our decision!

What you need to know about HEOP Interview and Testing Day

HEOP Interview and Testing Day allows students who are interested in the HEOP program at Russell Sage College to have the opportunity to visit campus and meet the team.

Who is it for?
All students who are applying to Russell Sage College through the HEOP Program must attend Interview and Testing Day.

What’s it all about?
Once HEOP staff have reviewed a student for academic and financial eligibility, a student is scheduled to visit the campus for HEOP Interview and Testing Day. The interview seeks to identify motivation and determination for future success at Sage. In many ways, college is about persistence. The testing helps determine college preparedness in ways standardized testing may miss.

What do I need to bring with me?
You may bring your parents or guardians. You must bring all financial documentation required to complete your application.

When is it?
HEOP Interview and Testing Day begins at 10:00am and is usually complete by 5:00pm.

Where is it?
We start our day on campus at the HEOP Office, located on the 3rd Floor of the Library.

Why is my attendance important?
The informational session will provide valuable information to help you with your final college decision. Interview and Testing Day is the last step in your admission process into Sage.

How do I get there?
Students must make their own travel arrangements to and from campus, although staff is always available to provide information.

Greyhound and Trailways provide service to Albany Bus Terminal. Amtrak service runs to Albany-Rensselaer station, which is also a stop for Megabus. We can pick you up at the terminal or station and return you there at the end of the day.

Verify that your travel schedule allows you time to arrive on time for your appointment.

Transfer Admission to HEOP

To transfer to Sage through HEOP, you must be or have been enrolled in an approved HEOP, EOP, SEEK, or College Discovery program. Transfer admission to HEOP is on a space-available basis.

  • You must be admitted to an academic program at Sage prior to seeking admission to HEOP.
  • Remember to check the HEOP box on your admission application! General admission to Sage does not automatically include admission to HEOP.
  • Contact the HEOP Office. HEOP admission has additional requirements.
  • The HEOP Office will send you a letter of confirmation once we have received all required documentation.

HEOP FAQs

How is eligibility determined?
A prospective student is eligible for HEOP after being ineligible for traditional admission as determined by the college. All applications must originate in Admission. Students must meet both academic and financial guidelines to be eligible for HEOP.

Is there an age requirement for HEOP?
No, HEOP does not have any age requirements.

As an applicant of ethnic descent, do I automatically qualify for HEOP admission?
No. It was established in 1969 by the State Education Department to provide access — principally academic support — for any qualifying New York State student; that is, one who meets both academic and economic eligibility standards.

My sibling qualifies for HEOP support but I am not eligible even though our household size and income have remained constant.
HEOP students must qualify not only economically, but also academically. HEOP students are inadmissible under the College’s regular academic admission guidelines, but those guidelines vary by program. Additionally, your family’s finances may have improved since your sibling was admitted to HEOP.

Do I still have to fill out the FAFSA form for financial aid?
Yes. The online FAFSA is “the gateway to all financial aid”.

I am an opportunity program student. Why didn’t I receive any financial support from HEOP when I transferred from my other college and was accepted?
HEOP acceptance is not automatic. HEOP admission depends upon the availability of both space and funds. You must check with the HEOP office prior to entry to find out if transfer students are being accepted for the semester you plan to enter Sage.

What is the next step after eligibility is determined?
Once HEOP staff have reviewed the application for academic and financial eligibility, an appointment is scheduled to visit the campus for the HEOP Interview and Testing Day. Applicants are responsible for transportation arrangements and cost to and from campus.

Why is the interview and diagnostic test necessary?
The interview seeks to identify motivation and determination for future success at Russell Sage College. In many ways, college is about persistence. The testing helps determine college preparedness in ways standardized testing may miss.

What happens after the interview and testing and when all forms are submitted?
HEOP staff reviews all documents and meets with Financial Aid staff to review financial documentation. A final admission decision is made by the Committee and the applicant is notified of acceptance or nonacceptance.

Now that I am an admitted HEOP student, will I (or my family) have to provide any money in order to attend the college?
Yes, a personal contribution is expected of each HEOP student. The amount is determined by the college’s Office of Financial Aid by evaluating several factors, including the household’s previous year’s gross income, the number of students attending college, participation in the college work study program, the student’s ability to earn money during the summer, and other factors related to the household’s financial resources. This amount is usually related to the loan amount taken by the student. Finally, there are needs (additional books, supplies, and travel expenses) that arise during a semester which HEOP and Financial Aid may not be able to cover. The student and their family will need to cover these costs.

Do I have to attend the Summer Academic Institute?
Yes. All admitted HEOP students must attend and successfully complete the Summer Academic Institute prior to their first semester at Sage.

How long is the Summer Academic Institute and what are the dates?
The 2020 Summer Academic Institute will run Sunday, July 12 through Saturday, August 15. The program is five weeks in duration and participants are required to attend the entire program. Summer pre-frosh live in the residence halls and eat meals in the campus dining hall. Participants are required to cover their own transportation to the college and back home.

I didn’t know about HEOP when I first started college and I think I was eligible. Can I apply now?
Unfortunately, no. If you are already in a matriculated college program and receiving financial aid, you are not eligible to receive HEOP support services.

Additonal Information

HEOP Contacts

Jermaine Privott
Executive Director, Higher Education Opportunity Program
518-292-1764

Kimberly Wafer
Assistant Director, Higher Education Opportunity Program
518-292-1919
[email protected]