University partners with Say Yes to Education

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Say Yes to Education

The University of the South has joined the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, which offers free tuition to eligible students from urban school districts. Sewanee was one of 11 new members of the compact announced today in Washington, D.C., by Say Yes to Education and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Say Yes to Education Inc. is a national nonprofit organization that helps children in urban school districts go to college and pay for college. Based in New York City, it serves nearly 65,000 children in kindergarten through 12th grade, and has been working with the Syracuse school district since 2008 and with the schools in Buffalo since 2012. The organization expects to expand nationally in the coming years.

In addition to scholarships, the organization and its local partners provide an array of services to students and their families that are intended to eliminate any obstacles to academic success. Those services include mental health counseling, medical care, academic tutoring and legal assistance.

The University of the South has taken several steps over the last three years to make a college education more accessible for students, including a 10 percent tuition reduction in 2011, a tuition freeze for current students in 2012, and guaranteeing tuition to remain level for four years for new students in 2012 and 2013.

Lee Ann Backlund, Sewanee’s dean of admission & financial aid, said, “The University of the South is delighted to join the Say Yes Higher Education Compact. It represents one more way we can continue Sewanee’s tradition of making a high-quality education possible for capable students, without regard to financial need. The support Say Yes provides to younger students and Sewanee’s commitment to making higher education more accessible should be a great match for deserving students.”

Along with Sewanee, the new institutions—which bring to 54 the total number in the Say Yes Higher Education Compact—are Cornell University, Hamilton College and Paul Smith’s College of the Adirondacks, in New York; Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; Rice University in Texas; Pomona College in California; Denison University in Ohio; Princeton University in New Jersey; and Rhodes College and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

Say Yes made special mention of those new members of its Higher Education Compact that had gone beyond the minimum scholarship requirement set by Say Yes. The organization noted that Cornell, Dartmouth, Rice, Sewanee, Rhodes and Vanderbilt had committed to cover the full cost of attendance (including charges such as room and board) for accepted Say Yes scholars.

The University of Pennsylvania and Syracuse University were the founding members of the Say Yes Higher Education Compact. Over the last several years the compact grew to include colleges in the Northeast and particularly New York, and in 2013 has expanded to premier private colleges and universities nationwide.

More than 2,100 graduates of Syracuse public high schools have used Say Yes support to attend college since 2009. They are evenly split among two-year and four-year institutions. The first class of Say Yes scholars from Buffalo went off to college this year.

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