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Promising college enrollment numbers through Say Yes expected to rise

Mike Desmond

Not only are Buffalo students going to college through the Say Yes program, but early results show they’re staying in, too. Right now, around two-thousand graduates of Buffalo public and charter schools are in college using support from Say Yes.

Say Yes Executive Director David Rust said data from kids about to graduate isn’t available yet. He said 88 percent of those eligible this year have completed filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as FAFSA, with the help of University at Buffalo students assigned to help at each school. Rust said city students are beating the national cohort.

“Nationally, in similar districts, only 53 percent of their graduates are enrolled under college or post-secondary,” Rust explained. “In Buffalo, today we’re at 67 percent. So, we are 14 percent points ahead of what’s going on in similar districts around the country. And that’s a credit to good work happening. The full credit goes to the adults in the district doing good work on this. So, kudos to the partnership.”

Around two thirds of students who graduate are going on to some form of higher education. About 61 percent of students go on to graduate. Rust said, nationally, students are still eligible for the program up to a year after they graduate, and a significant number are coming back for college help.

Rust said one of the more fascinating data points from information provided by students in the college financial aid process is that many don't know if either parent works and many don't know the level of education either parent reached.

A high percentage of the students helped by Say Yes are attending public colleges, mostly in the Western New York area. Rust said there are Say Yes students in 55 schools, with more applicants expected to out-of-town schools.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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