Muhlenberg College Partners with Say Yes To Education

Non-profit program offers urban youth the prospect of free tuition

 Tuesday, December 10, 2013 11:15 AM

Logo for 2013 Say Yes to Education news article.Muhlenberg College is one of 10 colleges and universities who recently partnered with Say Yes to Education, the national nonprofit group that helps organize and galvanize entire cities around making higher education accessible and affordable for the children in their communities. 

In joining the Say Yes 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 at or 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 itself of up to $5000.

Muhlenberg College has demonstrated a commitment to making a private, liberal arts education affordable and accessible.  In the class of 2015, 78.6% of students receive need based grant money from the College.  82.9% of the class of 2015 receives some type of financial assistance.

Other institutions who recently joined the initiative are: Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass.; Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri; Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; Williams College, in Williamstown, Mass.; Smith College, in Northampton, Mass.; Trinity College, in Hartford, Conn.; Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio; and Northeastern University in Boston.

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.

Say Yes’s tuition benefits and other supports (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, New York.  The organization expects to expand to additional cities in the coming years.

Say Yes, which has its headquarters in New York City, was founded in 1987 by money manager George Weiss. For its first 20 years it offered an array of services – and ultimately full-tuition college scholarships – to smaller groups of public school students. While Say Yes adopted a citywide approach in 2008, college scholarships are still available to several hundred students in the organization’s earlier chapters in Harlem in New York City; Philadelphia and Hartford, Conn.

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,’’ Ms. 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 Syracuse and Buffalo.

More than 3,000 high school graduates have gone off 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, visit Say Yes to Education.