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Say Yes will cover some tuition; what will you still have to pay?

Say Yes to Education is announcing three things today: a partnership with 20 private colleges; a room and board stipend for students who live on campus at a state school; and a roll-out plan for wraparound services in the Buffalo Public Schools.

All this stuff can get a little confusing.

Here's an attempt to simplify things.

I'm going to combine the information from today's announcement with information that Say Yes has already released, in the hopes of spelling out what your child will or will not be eligible for.

1. All Buffalo residents who graduate from a district school or charter school in the City of Buffalo, starting with the Class of 2013, are eligible for a full-tuition scholarship at any SUNY or CUNY school. They must be admitted to the school based on their own merit.

Here's the caveat: To qualify for full tuition, your child must have attended a public school (public, meaning district or charter school) in the city starting at least in second grade, and must have attended public schools in the city consistently all the way through twelfth grade.

If your child has attended public schools in the city only from ninth grade on, he or she would qualify for 65 percent of tuition costs; from sixth grade on, 80 percent; and from third grade on, 95 percent.

Say Yes covers tuition only -- not books, fees or any other costs. That means your family still needs to cover a variety of expenses.

Here's one example: For the fall 2012 semester, tuition at the University at Buffalo is $2,785 for a New York State resident. Fees for that semester at UB total $1,210. Books would probably be another few hundred dollars. Say Yes will cover just the $2,785. Your family would still be responsible for the $1,210 plus books.

Fees vary from school to school. For example, tuition at Buffalo State College is the same as at UB, $2,785 per semester. But fees at Buffalo State total $562 per semester.

There is no family income limit for the state school tuition scholarship. That means your family income could be $175,000, and your child would still qualify for Say Yes to pay full tuition to a SUNY or CUNY school.

The Say Yes tuition is considered "last dollar," meaning that Say Yes will pay the difference between the total cost of tuition and any Pell and/or TAP grants your family qualifies for. So, for example, UB tuition is $5,570 per year. If your family qualifies for a $1,500 Pell grant, Say Yes will kick in $4,070 to make up the difference for full tuition. Remember, your family is still responsible for fees, books and other expenses beyond tuition.

2. If your child attends a state school and lives on campus, he or she can get up to $2,000 a year from Say Yes toward those costs.

Your family would need to cover the rest of the housing and meal costs.

The average cost of room and board on-campus at Binghamton, for example, is $12,336. That means your family would be responsible for $10,336 of that.

This option is available only to families whose income qualify them for enough Pell and/or TAP grants to cover the full cost of tuition.

3.Twenty private colleges have agreed to offer full tuition scholarships for City of Buffalo residents graduating from a district or charter high school in the city. There is a maximum family income for the private school scholarships. In most cases, it's $75,000.

Say Yes will post full details within a month on its website,

The participating private colleges are: Canisius College, Medaille College, Niagara University, D'Youville College, Daemen College, Hilbert College, Houghton College, St. Bonaventure University, Trocaire College, Villa Maria College and Bryant & Stratton College.

Also: Colgate University, Syracuse University, University of Rochester, the University of Pennsylvania, Crouse Hospital College of Nursing, Cooper Union, Lesley University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Some colleges are going to limit the number of Say Yes scholarships they offer each year. If more students apply for a Say Yes scholarship than the number of scholarships that college has agreed to give out, then it will be up to the college to decide which students get the scholarships.

Say Yes expects more private colleges to sign on to the scholarship program.

Your child must have attended a district or charter school in Buffalo from ninth through twelfth grade to qualify for a private school scholarshp through Say Yes.

4. If your family income is above the $75,000 limit for a private school scholarship through Say Yes, your child is still eligible for a $5,000 annual Say Yes scholarship to that institution.

5. Say Yes is going to be introducing support services for students in the Buffalo Public Schools. Those services will be rolled out in four phases, with about 14 schools in each phase. For now, those services will consist of a site faciliator in each school, who will help identify student needs and work with school staff to make referrals to outside supports.

These schools will be in the first group, which will receive services in 2012-13: Blackman Early Childhood Center; Early Childhood Center 17; Olmsted School 156; School 8; Native American Magnet; Bennett Park Montessori; D'Youville Porter Campus School; Bilingual Center 33; International Prep; Harvey Austin; Martin Luther King Jr.; Emerson School of Hospitality; East High School; and Bennett High School.

These schools will receive services in 2013-14: Olmsted School 64; Early Childhood Center 82; Discovery School; Hillery Park; Southside; Lydia Wright; Community School 53; Highgate Heights; Waterfront; West Hertel; Buffalo Elementary School of Technology; Hutch Tech; McKinley; and The Academy School.

Schools to receive services in 2014-15: Drew Science Magnet 59; Makowski; City Honors; Performing Arts; Lovejoy Discovery; Math Science Tech Prep; North Park; Pantoja; Drew Science Magnet 90; International School 45; Hamlin Park Elementary; Middle Early College; South Park; and Lafayette.

And those to receive services beginning in 2015-16: Roosevelt; Early Childhood Center 61; Lorraine; Houghton; Grabiarz; Tubman; Sedita; BUILD; Badillo; Futures; da Vinci; Burgard; and Riverside.

David Rust, who runs the local Say Yes group, said the intention was to have a mix of grade levels and achievement levels in each group of schools.

- Mary Pasciak
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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |