Higher Education Compact

The Say Yes Higher Education Compact

Students served by Say Yes to Education have the opportunity to receive full-tuition scholarships to a range of public and private institutions – including the more than 60 private colleges and universities that are members of the Say Yes Higher Education Compact (full roster listed below).

The Compact, which was begun in 2008 in partnership with Dr. Nancy Cantor, then the Chancellor of Syracuse University, has grown rapidly in recent years – adding more than 25 private colleges and universities to its ranks in 2013 alone, with more to come in 2014.

Say Yes’ private college and university partners are located in 15 states and the District of Columbia, and offer the organization’s students a broad array of academic opportunities and campus experiences, from small liberal arts colleges to big research universities.

Say Yes’ tuition benefits and other supports (which may include tutoring, after-school services, counseling and legal assistance) are available to the families of nearly 65,000 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in every public school in Buffalo and Syracuse, New York – where Say Yes’ two city-wide programs are located. The organization expects to expand to additional cities in the coming years.

Public College and University Tuition Commitment

In Syracuse and Buffalo, graduates of the cities’ public high schools are eligible, regardless of family income, for up to 100 percent of the tuition needed to attend any public two- or four-year college or university in New York State to which they are accepted. The public scholarships (including additional grants to help cover part of the cost of college housing, for those living on campus) are funded by local donors – including individuals, families, foundations and businesses – in Syracuse and Buffalo.

Private College and University Tuition Commitment

In joining the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, private colleges and universities agree to ensure that students whose annual family income is at or below $75,000 are typically eligible, at a minimum, to attend tuition-free, provided they successfully navigate the institution’s regular admission process.

Say Yes students whose family income is above $75,000 and who are enrolled in a Compact institution are eligible to receive annual grants, from the organization itself, of up to $5,000. While Say Yes adopted a citywide approach in 2008, college scholarships are still available to several hundred students in the organization’s earlier chapters in Harlem in New York City; Philadelphia, and Hartford, Conn.

NOTE: The private colleges and universities that are the members of the Say Yes Higher Education Compact are the primary source of funding to Say Yes students attending their institutions. While all of the member colleges have agreed to the basic conditions of the Say Yes program, the institutions may have policies and restrictions that are unique – including policies that may take into account a family’s assets when considering Say Yes awards.

Parents and students seeking more information on the specific financial aid policies of members of the Say Yes Compact should consult the websites of Say Yes Buffalo and Say Yes Syracuse, as well as the member institutions themselves.

In some instances, Say Yes may be able to arrange air travel for a prospective student (and perhaps a parent or guardian) to visit a member institution of the Say Yes Higher Education compact – via vouchers provided to the organization through its partnership with Southwest Airlines®. Such requests should be made directly to the directors of the Say Yes programs in Buffalo (Drust@sayyestoeducation.org) and Syracuse (Pdriscoll@sayyestoeducation.org). 

Institutions seeking further information on joining the Say Yes Higher Education Compact should contact:

Sonia Drohojowska

National Projects Manager, Say Yes to Education Inc.


212 415 4590


Say Yes Higher Education Compact Members

Private Colleges and Universities


Public College and University Partners

CUNY (City University of New York) Senior Colleges


State University of New York (SUNY)


SUNY Community Colleges