Agreement Will Provide Funding from Buffalo Billion II to Help Buffalo Students with Cost of Attending College
Complements Excelsior Scholarship by Covering Books, Fees, and Other Non-Tuition Expenses
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement between New York State and the Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship Fund to provide $10 million to assist Buffalo students with the cost of attending college. The agreement combines the efforts of Say Yes Buffalo and New York's Excelsior Scholarship program by covering books, fees and other non-tuition expenses for Say Yes Buffalo scholars with the most need. In return, Say Yes will continue to provide tuition scholarships for all Buffalo students to attend state institutions, given they meet eligibility requirements.
"A college education is essential to succeed in today's economy, and financial barriers should not serve as a roadblock for any prospective students," Governor Cuomo said. "With these programs, we are investing in our future by providing the resources students need and working to ensure that quality higher education is accessible to all."
"New York and Say Yes Buffalo are working together to make college a reality for students in the City of Buffalo," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today's announcement at McKinley High School in Buffalo. "With the Say Yes Buffalo initiative and our Excelsior Scholarship program, we're opening new doors and pathways to success for students in Buffalo and across New York. Funding for Say Yes through the Buffalo Billion II is an important part of our strategy to invest in the future of our region's workforce and prepare students for new jobs being created in Buffalo and across Western New York."
Buffalo Billion II
The $10 million commitment from New York State to Say Yes Buffalo is part of Buffalo Billion II in an effort to continue to strengthen and better prepare the regional workforce. Announced in January 2017, Buffalo Billion Phase II is intended to build upon the success of Phase I by extending the region's economic transformation to the neighborhood level. Say Yes Buffalo is an education-based, economic revitalization initiative that will continue to offer unprecedented educational opportunity for an entire generation of Buffalo Public School students. Established in 2012, Say Yes incentivizes graduation from the Buffalo Public Schools with a commitment to provide graduates with the tuition they need to attend a partner college or university to earn a degree or certificate. Say Yes also provides student support services that are critical to educational success. With volunteer mentors, local donors and internship providers, Say Yes is a landmark collaborative model. It is based on a successful national initiative that has helped to boost graduation rates and post-secondary attainment rates in cities across the nation.
Governor Cuomo recently announced that SUNY and CUNY students whose families make up to $110,000 annually can now apply for tuition-free college. The Excelsior Scholarship, in combination with other aid programs, allows eligible full-time students to attend a SUNY or CUNY two-year or four-year college tuition-free.
To be eligible for an Excelsior Scholarship, students must be New York State residents, plan to attend a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year college, take 30 credits per year (including Summer and Winter sessions), and be on track to graduate on time with an Associate's Degree in two years or a Bachelor's Degree in four years. For the 2018-19 academic year, household federal adjusted gross income can total up to $110,000 to be eligible. In 2019-20 and beyond, New York State families can earn up to $125,000. Recipients must also plan to live in New York State for the length of time they received the award.
Approximately 53 percent of full-time SUNY and CUNY in-state students, and more than 210,000 New York residents, now attend school tuition-free thanks to the addition of students receiving the Excelsior Scholarship.
David Rust, Executive Director of Say Yes Buffalo said, "We are happy to announce our partnership with New York State regarding Excelsior and Say Yes Buffalo. Since the beginning of our work, we recognized that some students need more support to be able to persist and complete a postsecondary degree. We are thankful to New York State for recognizing the importance of the Opportunity Grants and making an investment that ensures their availability for generations to come."
Senator Tim Kennedy said, "Education is the key to success, and Say Yes is an important tool for attaining that all important college degree. I've been a proud supporter of this transformative and critical program since day one because I believe in their mission and impact on our students, and I've been committed to seeing this critical funding delivered. All support for Say Yes is a wise investment in the workforce of the future."
Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said, "Say Yes has been a game changer for Buffalo Public School students by providing wraparound services and removing the doubt of college affordability from students and their families. I applaud Governor Cuomo and my delegation colleagues for understanding the value, hope and opportunity that $10 million in additional funds will help provide for incoming undergraduate students."
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "Since Say Yes was first introduced, Buffalo has seen students become more successful in school, and in turn, more prepared for life after they graduate. This program has made college an affordable option for students and their families, and I know the Governor's generous contribution to this program will help put even more Buffalo students on a path to success."
Mayor of Buffalo, Byron W. Brown, said, "As an early supporter of the Say Yes program, the City of Buffalo has committed $2.3 million to this highly effective program, which includes $500,000 pledged in the upcoming budget year. Today's announcement of a $10 million investment to the Buffalo scholarship fund is truly great news because it opens the door even wider for local students to successfully complete high school and continue their educations. I thank Governor Andrew Cuomo, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, and our Western New York delegation for reaching this mutually agreeable funding solution for Say Yes, which will benefit thousands of Buffalo's students."
About the Say Yes Buffalo Partnership
Launched in 2012, the Say Yes Buffalo partnership is a community collaboration dedicated to strengthening the city's public school system and increasing high school and postsecondary graduation rates. Comprised of the Buffalo Public School District, City of Buffalo, Erie County, the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the District Parent Coordinating Council and more than one-hundred other funders and community-based-organizations is made possible by the collaboration and generosity of Western New York individuals, families, businesses and organizations and Say Yes to Education. More information at www.SayYesBuffalo.org.
About Say Yes to Education
Founded in 1987, Say Yes to Education is a nonprofit that partners with communities around the goals of every public school student not only graduating high school - but doing so prepared for a college or other postsecondary education, and with access to resources to make that education affordable. At the heart of Say Yes is a powerful incentive for families and communities: the prospect of a college scholarship, whether to an in-state public institution or one of the more than 100 private colleges and universities in the Say Yes National Higher Education Compact. Say Yes and its partners ensure that students have the support outside the classroom - tutoring; after-school and summer programs; medical care; counseling and legal help - to clear the path to academic achievement. Say Yes works with its community partners to bring together every local stakeholder - city and county government; the school district; parents; teachers; businesses; unions; philanthropic and faith-based organizations; colleges and universities - and arms that coalition with the tools to boost postsecondary participation and success. Those systems and structures enable the work of the local Say Yes partnership to go to scale and be sustained through predictable transitions in leadership, and historically unpredictable funding from state and local sources. The organization's support services are available to nearly 140,000 public school students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Most are in communitywide chapters in Syracuse (a pilot that began in 2008) and Buffalo (2012), as well as Guilford County (Greensboro-High Point), North Carolina (2015). Say Yes, which has already begun the search for its fourth community chapter, has smaller chapters in Harlem in New York City and Philadelphia. For more information, visit www.SayYestoEducation.org
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