Trinity is among 10 colleges and universities that have joined Say Yes to Education, a national nonprofit group that helps organize and galvanize entire cities in making higher education accessible and affordable for children in their communities.
In signing on to the Say Yes to Higher Education Compact, private colleges and universities agree to ensure that the neediest of the students served by the organization – typically those whose annual family income is below $75,000 – are eligible, at a minimum, to attend tuition-free, provided they successfully navigate the institution’s regular admission process. Say Yes students whose family income is above $75,000 and who are enrolled in a Compact institution are eligible to receive annual grants from the organization of up to $5,000.
In addition to Trinity, the member institutions who became members this week are Yale University; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Washington University in St. Louis; Brown University; Williams College; Smith College; Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio; Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA; and Northeastern University in Boston.
“Trinity College is pleased to join a wide range of institutions that view this program as we do – a potentially life-changing opportunity for students from low-income families to receive a first-rate college education,” said Larry Dow, dean of admissions and financial aid at Trinity. “We’re happy to be on board.”
The first students eligible to apply under the new partnership agreements are those seeking to enroll in college in the fall of 2014.
With the addition of its new partner institutions, the Say Yes Compact now has 64 private colleges and universities as members, including Harvard, Duke, Syracuse University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Rochester, Notre Dame, Rice, Cornell and Medaille College in Buffalo, NY.
Say Yes’s tuition benefits and other support (which may include tutoring, after-school services, counseling and legal assistance) are available to the families of nearly 65,000 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in every public school in Buffalo and Syracuse, NY. The organization expects to expand to additional cities in coming years.
Say Yes, which has its headquarters in New York City, was founded in 1987 by money manager George Weiss. During its first 20 years, it offered an array of services – and ultimately full-tuition scholarships – to smaller groups of public school students. While Say Yes adopted a citywide approach in 2008, college scholarships are still available to some students in the organization’s smaller chapters in Harlem in New York City; Philadelphia; and Hartford.
In expressing her gratitude to the new members of its Higher Education Compact, Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, the president of Say Yes, noted that each institution made available a safety net of academic advising and other mentoring for students from low-income households -- including those who may be among the first in their families to attend college - consistent with the mission of the organization.
“It is not enough just to give a student a scholarship, a philosophy we are pleased to see embraced by our new partners, several of whom are led by individuals who were themselves among the first in their families to graduate from college,’’ Schmitt-Carey said. "We thank all the members of the Say Yes Higher Education Compact for standing with us as we seek to ensure that our students can receive a post-secondary education, pay for it and possess the necessary tools to persist through graduation.”
In Syracuse and Buffalo, graduates of the cities’ public high schools are also eligible, regardless of family income, for up to 100 percent of the tuition needed to attend any public, two- or four-year college or university in New York State to which they are accepted. The scholarships are funded by local donors – including individuals, families, foundations and businesses -- in the two cities.
More than 3,000 high school graduates have gone to college with Say Yes supports since its inception. In Syracuse and Buffalo, Say Yes works in partnership with local elected officials, business leaders, community-based organizations and local universities, as well as students, parents, school administrators, teachers and counselors.
For a full list of higher education partners and to learn more about Say Yes to Education, please visit: http://www.sayyestoeducation.org.