Say Yes Guilford may not be as extensive a program as was hoped for five years ago when there was a giant amount of fanfare around it – however, Say Yes is still quietly providing college funds to many Guilford County Schools graduates – and, on Friday, Oct. 11, Say Yes sent out notice that registration is now open for students in their senior year of high school.
Registration information and applications can be found at the website Sayyesguilford.org.
While initially the scholarship help was intended for all Guilford County Schools graduates regardless of family income, a severe financial miscalculation three years ago forced the realization that Say Yes Guilford must use financial means testing criteria in order to qualify only some students.
According to the statistics from the organization, a total of 1,194 Guilford County School graduates finished the 2018-19 academic year at post-secondary institutions with support from Say Yes Guilford and its partners. Say Yes stated that those grants had a total impact of over $7 million – a number that includes students who received Say Yes Tuition Awards, Opportunity Grants, Choice Grants, Compact Scholarships and related awards.
As for graduates in the 2018-2019 school year, Say Yes Guilford awarded $1. 4 million to 875 students: $760,000 in Tuition Awards to 365 students; $127,000 in Opportunity Grants to 110 students and $510,000 in Say Yes Choice Grants to 400 students.
About 61 percent of the beneficiaries are female and 39 percent male.
Over the last school year, Say Yes held 55 workshops in schools and around the community.
The national Say Yes to Education program was founded by billionaire George Weiss over 30 years ago in Philadelphia when Weiss promised to pay the college tuition costs of 112 inner-city sixth graders if they graduated from high school. Since then, Say Yes has expanded into other northeastern school systems in Syracuse, Buffalo and New York City as well as in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut.
In most cases, Say Yes pays the “last dollar” tuition cost for all students – the portion of the college bill left after all other grants and loans are taken into account. The program has historically done that regardless of income – and that was a big selling point in getting the Guilford County community behind it, but two and half years ago Say Yes Guilford was forced to make massive changes.
The program began in Guilford County in 2015 with the announcement, made, with a great deal of hoopla, that Say Yes Guilford would provide scholarship aid to students in families of all incomes. However, in March 2017, the group announced that, due to a huge miscalculation and a giant shortfall in funds, it would begin means-testing benefits since there wasn’t anywhere close to enough money to fund what the group had initially promised. Say Yes discovered that an endowment fund to pay out that kind of money would need to be over $500 million, instead of the group’s initial goal of about $70 million.