LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY — After graduating from Tri-Valley High School last year, Reese Shelmandine was planning to go to SUNY Cobleskill to pursue a four-year degree. The Sullivan Promise …
LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY — After graduating from Tri-Valley High School last year, Reese Shelmandine was planning to go to SUNY Cobleskill to pursue a four-year degree. The Sullivan Promise scholarship, which offers free tuition to Sullivan County high school graduates, helped change his mind.
“Once I saw that they had environmental majors [at SUNY Sullivan], it caught my interest, and then when I qualified for the Promise scholarship, it made me want to come here,” said Shelmandine, who said the scholarship has enabled him to take advantage of affordable opportunities at SUNY Sullivan, close to home, and that he can then transfer to a four-year school. “I haven’t taken some of the base classes I need for an environmental major, so I’m taking them here, and it feels a lot more comforting taking them here and not being so far from home.”
Shelmandine is one of 64 Sullivan County high school graduates from the class of 2022 who have taken advantage of the Promise scholarship. The scholarship was established last spring by the Sullivan County Legislature. It provides free tuition to SUNY Sullivan, and it remains available for 2022 Sullivan County high school graduates and GED recipients for the spring 2023 semester, which begins on Monday, January 23.
The legislature has pledged to continue the Promise program for high school graduates and GED recipients in 2023. The students should be applying to the college for the 2023-24 year.
“Student debt in the U.S. represents the largest single consumer debt held, at approximately $1.7 trillion,” said SUNY Sullivan president Jay Quaintance. “While colleges work very hard to contain the costs and community colleges represent the best ‘bang for the buck,’ we are very fortunate that Sullivan County recognizes that access to affordable college is a game changer for communities.”
Communities with greater educational attainment benefit, he said. There are “greater earning opportunities, greater economic opportunities, increased rates of home ownership, improved public health outcomes. The list goes on.”
As with Shelmandine, many Promise recipients took advantage of the scholarship to stay close to home, save money on credits toward a four-year degree, try out classes before committing to a four-year degree program, or simply just to take the financial pressure off attending college.
“The Promise Scholarship allows me to stay close to home and receive an education that is free of debt,” said nursing major Antony Waite, a Sullivan West graduate who still plans to get a four-year nursing degree. “As a nursing student, there are tons of stressors, and I am relieved that paying for education is not one of them. The scholarship is what helped me choose to pursue my education at SUNY Sullivan. It is a great opportunity for any Sullivan County graduate.”
“Getting the Promise scholarship has taken a lot of the stress out of how to pay for college,” said liberal arts and sciences/biology major Kailyn Minckler, a Sullivan West graduate who plans to major in forensic science after she graduates from Sullivan. “The scholarship didn’t change my plans at all, it helped me save a lot of money for when I transfer to a four-year college.”
Graphic design major Kathryn Widman said her plan was always to study for two years at SUNY Sullivan and then do a four-year degree in art education at SUNY New Paltz. The scholarship has allowed her to go to school full-time and save the money she earns in the summer to put toward a four-year degree in the future.
“It’s helped me a lot,” said the Sullivan West graduate. “The Promise scholarship takes the burden of tuition off your mind. I can focus on school. During the summer, I can save up for when I do transfer and have to pay for tuition.”
Others weighed in too. “Our local high school graduates have plenty of obstacles to higher education—tuition being one of the biggest,” Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Rob Doherty said, calling the scholarship a way to keep students free of “a crushing debt burden.”
“The Promise scholarship is a game changer for our students,” said Fallsburg Junior Senior High School principal Kyle Roddey. “By providing free tuition and fees to county residents, this eliminates a major barrier for our learners who aspire to attend college. Fallsburg students are absolutely incredible in so many ways, and we encourage them to utilize this program to supercharge their futures. College can open up limitless opportunities and this program will allow these students to develop skills to reach their goals for now and well into the future.”
To learn more about the Sullivan Promise Scholarship, visit sunysullivan.edu/sullivan-promise-scholarship.
To apply to SUNY Sullivan, email email@example.com, call 845/434-5750 ext. 4287, or visit sunysullivan.edu.
Story contributed by SUNY Sullivan.
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