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Free tuition: Legislature approves first in state program


LOCH SHELDRAKE –– According to Forbes, there’s approximately $1.75 trillion in total student loan debt (including federal and private loans), in the United States. The average borrower owes $28,950.

A new program for Sullivan County residents who chose to attend SUNY Sullivan will lower the amount of student debt they accumulate.

Last Thursday, County legislators established the Sullivan Promise Tuition-free Scholarship program, providing SUNY Sullivan with up to $300,000 annually. The program begins in the 2022-23 academic year.

The Sullivan Promise Scholarship will cover the full tuition and fees of every County resident who graduates high school in 2022, and are admitted to SUNY Sullivan beginning in the fall of ‘22, including GED students and homeschoolers, for one year of full-time study in a degree program.

Interested students must submit a financial aid application. There is a two-year residency requirement and recipients must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA while enrolled at the College. 

The County and college, according to SUNY Sullivan President Jay Quaintance, are the first in the state to offer such a program.

Quaintance said the idea behind the program is two-fold. “One is we recognize broadly that college degree attainment has a very positive effect on a populace and on the community in which those residents live.” Quaintance cited examples like decreased public health issues, as well as increased earning possibilities and housing opportunities.

“It is a positive in every way if someone goes to college,” said Quaintance.

The other factor is that the  program could mean savings for the County, which currently covers half the tuition of each resident who chooses to attend a community college outside of Sullivan County. The same goes for County residents who attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, the only four-year institution where that applies.

“[If] we can keep them here … then it’s a win for everyone,” said Quaintance. “We’ll see college attainment go up, student loan debt go down, [and] increased opportunities for employment and economic development.”

For more information on the Sullivan Promise Scholarship and eligibility, visit suny-sullivan.com/suny-sullivan-promise.


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