Say Yes statistics are a bit confusing

Kudos to the Say Yes Buffalo scholarship program for awarding $930,000 from its fund to close the tuition gap for qualifying students. What I am having difficulty in understanding is why it also takes credit for the $7 million awarded to students from state and federal aid sources.

Say Yes is including in its statistics every student receiving financial awards from any source, even though Say Yes is contributing none of its own scholarship money toward the students’ tuition.

The reality is that the vast majority of Buffalo’s seniors would have received the same financial aid assistance even if Say Yes did not exist. Our students qualify for and receive large financial aid packages based on the level of poverty in this city. The problem in increasing college enrollment has been and continues to be preparing our students to qualify academically to the colleges of their choice.

Say Yes’ claim to have increased the number of financial aid applications by 65 percent is also an issue for me. I am a retired high school counselor with the Buffalo schools. As counselors, we spent numerous hours in assisting seniors with their college applications and financial aid forms. What we did not do was encourage students who did not plan on attending college to fill out these forms, and more significantly did not ask for a completed financial aid form unless they also handed in a completed college application.

Where Say Yes can really contribute is the financial assistance that it can provide to struggling middle-class students and families – hard-working families that are often locked out of the financial aid process. Quoting statistics for the numbers of families that it helps in that category would provide a more accurate picture of the program’s true success.

JoAnn Hess