NY tuition help at private colleges: Colgate opts out; Cornell, Wells College in

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Colgate University has decided to join Le Moyne College in declining to take part in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new initiative that offers tuition assistance for students in New York private schools.

Colgate, a prestigious private school in Hamilton, believes the program’s requirements for graduates to live in New York for up to four years are too restrictive, a school administrator said Tuesday.

At the same time, Cornell University in Ithaca and Wells College in Aurora said Tuesday the school will take part in Cuomo’s Enhanced Tuition Award program beginning in the fall.

Private, nonprofit colleges and universities in New York faced a deadline Monday to inform the state if they will take part in the new program.

The Enhanced Tuition Award program provides up to $6,000 per academic year in tuition assistance to private college and university students whose schools participate in the program. The schools must provide matching funds for a portion of the costs.

The program has received less attention than the state’s Excelsior Scholarship initiative, which provides free tuition for eligible students enrolled in public colleges and universities in New York.

A Colgate administrator told Syracuse.com on Tuesday that the program is unlikely to be of use to its 2,922 students.

“In reviewing the details of the New York State Enhanced Tuition Award program, it was determined that the limitations and restrictions imposed upon students, including a strict residency requirement, outweigh the potential benefits,” said Gina Soliz, Colgate’s senior associate dean and director of financial aid.

“Consequently, Colgate University has opted out of participating in this program and, instead, will continue to award financial aid from other state, federal, and institutional resources,” Soliz said.

The school said it already meets 100 percent of the “demonstrated financial need” of accepted students. Among incoming freshmen, 41 percent receive financial aid, with an average award of $52,075. 

Le Moyne College, a private Jesuit school in DeWitt, also cited the New York residency requirement as a key factor in its decision to opt out of the program. Students who leave New York prior to fulfilling their commitment after graduating would be required to pay back their tuition awards to the state.

But officials at Cornell University in Ithaca and Wells College in Aurora, Cayuga County, said they will offer the new state program as an option for their students.

“We applaud Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers for making access to higher education a leading issue this legislative session, and Cornell is pleased to partner with the state in making even more financial aid available to income-eligible New York state resident students,” said Joel Malina, Cornell’s vice president for university relations.

All in-state students at Cornell will be eligible for the tuition aid as long as they meet the program’s requirements, Malina said.

To qualify this year, students must have lived in New York continuously for 12 months before applying and come from a household that makes less than $100,000 in adjusted gross income.

At Wells College, about half of the 550 enrolled students come from New York state and are potentially eligible for the aid, said Ann Rollo, speaking for the college.

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