New Initiative Benefits GCS Students Say Yes to Education
is an innovative initiative in Guilford County, which will help students attending Guilford County Schools pay for college tuition. The first recipients of last-dollar tuition scholarships are projected to be students graduating in 2016 from the county’s public high schools.
For updates and further information, please email Say Yes to Education or contact Guilford Parent Academy at 336.370.2351.
Q: What is Say Yes to Education?
The following information is excerpted from the Say Yes to Education organization.
Say Yes to Education is a nonprofit organization founded in the late 1980s by money manager George Weiss, whose business is headquartered in New York City and Hartford, CT. In 1987, Weiss promised 112 sixth graders at a Philadelphia public school, that when they graduated high school, he would pay for their college education. He also provided the students, and their families, with supports to help them reach that goal. He repeated this promise over the next two decades with other groups of children in Philadelphia, as well as in Cambridge, MA, Hartford, CT, and Harlem in New York City.
In the mid-2000s, in response to Weiss’ desire to take the idea of Say Yes to scale, the organization expanded its strategy to apply to entire communities—and to make its services available to all of the children enrolled in a community’s public schools. Since then, Say Yes has helped galvanize its partner communities around three main goals. First, Say Yes helps communities build local endowments that provide last dollar tuition scholarships so public school graduates can afford and complete a postsecondary education. Second, Say Yes works with the community to build student supports that help students every step of the way. In other Say Yes communities, these include after-school programs, summer programs, tutoring, legal assistance, health services and more. Third, Say Yes works with school leadership to ensure students are on the path to academic success.
Today, Say Yes college scholarships and services are available to more than 65,000 public school students from kindergarten through high school. Most reside in Syracuse and Buffalo, New York – the two locations where Say Yes has been implemented citywide.
Q: When will Say Yes tuition scholarships be available to Guilford County School students?
The goal is to make Say Yes scholarships available to students who graduate from GCS high schools in spring of 2016 – this coming spring’s graduating class. While many details remain to be worked out, the expectation is that students enrolling in colleges, universities and other postsecondary programs as soon as the fall of 2016 who meet the partnership’s eligibility requirements (see below) will be able to do so with Say Yes scholarships.
Q: Who will be eligible for tuition scholarships?
Students who graduate from GCS high schools beginning in spring 2016 will eligible. There are some basic requirements for student eligibility, including different tiers for eligibility depending on the length of enrollment in GCS.
The following tiers have been approved by the Scholarship Board based on continuous enrollment in Guilford County Schools.
|Grade entered, continuously enrolled
||% Last Dollar Tuition Scholarship
* This is the working policy for the 2015-2016 school year. The Scholarship Board will continue to meet to refine policies.
Q: How will scholarships to in-state public universities work?
An endowment built with local, private contributions will provide last-dollar tuition scholarships for all graduates of GCS to attend North Carolina public colleges, universities, or community colleges. These scholarships will close the gap between grants and aid, like Pell grants, and the cost of in-state tuition. Graduates will be eligible for a scholarship to an in-state public university regardless of family income. Depending on endowment funding, students with Pell grants that cover the full cost of tuition could be eligible for Opportunity Grants to help with other college costs.
Q: How will the scholarships work at private colleges or universities?
More than 100 private colleges and universities across the country participate in the Say Yes Higher Education Compact. Compact members agree to provide scholarships to students in Say Yes communities, and include schools such as Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Davidson College, Duke University, Northwestern University, Notre Dame, Syracuse University, Tulane University, Vanderbilt University and more. See the full list of the national compact members
(Note: As indicated on the website, a handful of smaller Compact institutions, most of them located within 60 miles of the Say Yes chapters in Buffalo and Syracuse, only provide scholarships to students in those communities.)
These institutions have agreed to waive tuition for students in Say Yes communities who are admitted to their programs and who have annual family incomes of $75,000 or less. When a graduate of GCS is admitted to a private school in the Compact—and his/her family earns $75,000 or less annually – the student’s tuition would be covered, after outside aid like Pell Grants has been taken into account. Expenses such as fees and living expenses would not be covered by the Say Yes scholarship.
If admitted to a private institution in the Compact, students with family incomes greater than $75,000 will qualify for an annual scholarship of up to $5,000 from our local endowment to reduce the tuition burden. (Note: the final determination of a particular’s family income, as it pertains to scholarship eligibility, rests with the private colleges and universities themselves.)
Remember, all students (regardless of family income) are eligible for the Say Yes “last-dollar” scholarships to attend any of the 16 public colleges and universities in the North Carolina system, along with numerous community colleges.
Visit the Say Yes to Education Guilford website
to learn more.