The Rochester Promise, a tuition assistance program for students who graduate from a Rochester city high school, has been renewed and expanded for those graduating in 2014 and beyond.

“This is a program that offers some hope, a goal, and (for those few City school-goers who can prepare themselves to take advantage of it each year) reliable access to a higher education opportunity that thousands from all over the world long to experience,” Dean of Financial Aid and Admissions at the UR Jonathan Burdick said.

Those who qualify for the Rochester Promise were formerly guaranteed at least $100,000 in tuition scholarship for graduating from a Rochester city high school, attended the high school for two years prior, gaining admittance to the UR on their own merit.

Changes to the scholarship now mean that, with additional government and University funding, it will equal full tuition for up to four years, a value estimated between $145,000 and $192,000.

Additionally, an income cap will be instated, making only those students whose families make less than $137,400 a year, twice the area average, eligible to receive this scholarship.

According to Burdick, these changes are a result of evaluating the needs of a specific city school student and realizing that $100,000 was no longer enough to make attending UR feasible.

“When I reviewed the situation, I realized that the original value of the Promise was no longer combining with the Federal Pell grant program and New York State Tuition Assistance Program dollars to approximate our tuition costs,” he said. “We made the adjustment and enrolled the student in this case, but those calculations were a wake-up call.”

Burdick said that families with students exceeding the income cap are still eligible and encouraged to apply for merit scholarships and other need-based financial aid packages. However, families with higher incomes do not need to have the automatic assurance of such a large award.

“I want students and families who can use the help to know that the Promise is real, but I don’t need to ensure that families with privileges get even more privileges, nor is that ever one of the University’s deliberate goals,” Burdick said.

Since the program’s launch in 2007, over 70 individuals have enrolled at UR through the Rochester Promise as freshmen and transfer students. Those who graduated from the Rochester City School District may start their college education elsewhere to gain more preparation for their studies here and transfer afterward.

Tanya May, a junior first-generation college student, and a recipient of the Rochester Promise scholarship, entered UR as a freshman after graduating as valedictorian from Charlotte High School.

“I knew I wanted to apply [to UR], but I wasn’t sure I could get in and I wasn’t sure I could afford it.”

May learned about the possibility of the Rochester Promise scholarship through her guidance counselor during her senior year. She was accepted to UR later that year.

Nahoma Presberg, a junior and graduate of the School of the Arts, an arts magnet school in Rochester, is another recipient of the Rochester Promise Scholarship.

“I think it’s really important to give city school kids the opportunity to attend four-year schools,” Presberg said. “It also brings a new perspective to campus, and it’s a different group of students and makes the student body more diverse.”

Cozen is a member of the class of 2014.

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