Say Yes Cleveland provides scholarships up to the value of tuition to all public universities, community colleges, and Pell-eligible certificate programs in Ohio – as well as to over 100 private colleges and universities in Ohio and across the nation – to eligible students – beginning with the high school graduating class of 2019 – who live in Cleveland* and graduate from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District or eligible partnering charter high school.
*Eligible students who reside in Bratenahl, Linndale, Newburgh Heights, and parts of Brook Park and Garfield Heights assigned to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are also eligible for the Say Yes scholarship if they graduate from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District or eligible partnering charter high school.
Download or print this FAQ: SYC Scholarship FAQ 020319.
What are Say Yes scholarships?
Among the scholarships available to eligible students – beginning with the high school graduating class of 2019 – who live in Cleveland (or one of the aforementioned communities) and graduate from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District or an eligible partnering charter high school:
What are the goals of the Say Yes scholarship?
The goals of the Say Yes scholarship are to increase education levels of Cleveland residents; boost and retain population in the City of Cleveland; improve college access for middle- and low-income families in Cleveland; and spur economic growth and expansion in Cleveland.
What does the scholarship cover and not cover?
The Say Yes scholarships can only be used for tuition and fees. They do NOT cover non-tuition expenses such as room, board, books, etc. Students may be able to use institutional aid and other non-Say Yes scholarships for these purposes.
How does a student pay for the rest of the cost of attendance not covered by the Say Yes scholarship?
Students can use institutional aid, scholarships, grants, and federal student loans to pay for non-tuition and fees expenses. Say Yes encourages students to apply for additional scholarships, starting the process early in their high school careers.
Who’s eligible for a tuition scholarship?
All students – beginning with the high graduating class of 2019 – who have continuously lived in Cleveland* and been enrolled in a Cleveland Metropolitan School District or eligible partnering charter high school since the beginning of ninth grade are eligible for the scholarship.
*Eligible students who reside in Bratenahl, Linndale, Newburgh Heights, and parts of Brook Park and Garfield Heights assigned to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District also are eligible for the Say Yes scholarship if they graduate from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District or eligible partnering charter high school.
Don’t know if you live within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District? Please click here. Input your address. The results will show your taxing district. If it is CMSD, your household is within the district.
Note: The residency and enrollment requirements are effective as of January 18, 2019.
Are homeless, foster, and refugee students eligible?
Homeless, foster, and documented refugee students may be eligible for Say Yes scholarships. Please see the school counselor or College Now advisor in your building for more information.
Will students currently in the 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grades be eligible?
Yes. Students in the graduating classes of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 – who meet the residency requirements as of January 18, 2019 – and are continuously enrolled in a Cleveland Metropolitan School District or eligible partnering charter high school through graduation – will receive the same scholarship as the class of 2023 and subsequent years.
Students in earlier high school graduating classes (2018 and earlier) are not eligible.
What schools are considered eligible partnering charter high schools?
There is a two-part process. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District can enter into partnership agreements with local eligible public charter schools. In January 2019, the CMSD Board of Education adopted new criteria for partnership agreements. Only schools that meet the new criteria are eligible for Say Yes student scholarships. If a charter school meets the Cleveland Metropolitan School District criteria for partnership, it must then go through the same Say Yes process the District went through. That process includes, among others, providing school performance data, agreeing with data-sharing arrangements with Say Yes, and submitting to a fiscal review and analysis. A full process for charter schools will be developed later in 2019 and announced to the community.
What’s the process to apply for Say Yes scholarships?
In their senior year, students should create an account and complete the Say Yes Scholarship Certification Form through the scholarship portal at www.SayYesCleveland.org. School counselors and College Now advisers will be able to assist with this process.
For the graduating class of 2019, the online application is available here. As of April 8, 2019, the system identifies if the applying student is eligible or ineligible.
Students also must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year.
After the students create their Say Yes account, they should indicate their “school interests,” which includes any eligible postsecondary school or program (four-year, two-year or Pell-eligible certificate program) to which they have applied or plan to apply. Once students decide which school they are enrolling in, they must update their account to reflect that choice so payment can be processed to the school.
Do students have to meet a minimum GPA or test score?
No. All eligible students who graduate from high school and are admitted to an eligible postsecondary school or program (four-year, two-year or Pell-eligible certificate program) can receive a tuition scholarship. But to continue to receive the Say Yes scholarship, students must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress as required by federal guidelines throughout their postsecondary education.
How much money is the scholarship for Ohio’s public postsecondary institutions?
The total amount of the Say Yes Cleveland Scholarship, which is available for in-state public postsecondary institutions, depends on:
- Cost of tuition and fees
- Amount of federal and state grants provided to the student
- Student’s family income
For students whose families’ annual income is $75,000 or less, the scholarship will cover the full difference between the total costs of tuition and fees minus the total amount of federal and state grants received by the student.
For students whose families’ annual income is above $75,000, the scholarship will cover up to $5,000 each year to help fund the difference between the total costs of tuition and fees minus the total amount of federal and state grants received by the student.
How much money is the scholarship for private colleges in the Say Yes National Higher Education Compact?
Students from families earning $75,000 or less who attend a school in the Say Yes Higher Education Compact will receive full tuition and fees from the college or university.
Students whose families earn $75,000 or more who attend a school in the Say Yes Higher Education Compact will receive a $5,000 Say Yes Cleveland Choice Scholarship from the local scholarship fund.
Note: Graduates in the class of 2019 who are interested in attending a private college in the Say Yes Higher Education Compact should check the most updated list at www.SayYesCleveland.org.
If a student is notified that he or she will receive a scholarship, when will he or she receive the scholarship payment?
Scholarship payments are made directly to the college or university starting in September/October of the fall semester. Say Yes payments are divided into halves, with half of the payment being made in the fall for the fall semester and half in the spring for the spring semester.
If a student is denied a scholarship, can the student appeal the decision?
Yes. Students can submit an appeal if they are identified as ineligible in the Say Yes Scholarship Certification system. The instructions to file an appeal are here.
Do students need to start their postsecondary education the fall semester after high school graduation to receive the scholarship?
Say Yes strongly encourages enrollment in postsecondary education immediately after high school graduation. Eligible students can defer their postsecondary enrollment for up to one year after high school graduation. However, they must indicate that they are deferring and must enroll in postsecondary education by the following year. (For example, a member of the graduating class of 2019 who submits a deferral notice must begin his or her postsecondary education no later than fall semester 2020.)
How long is a student eligible for the scholarship (i.e., how many semesters and/or years)?
Students can receive the Say Yes Cleveland Scholarship up to eight semesters. They must use those eight fall or spring semesters of eligibility within five years of beginning their postsecondary education. Scholarships are NOT available for students to pursue masters or other post-undergraduate degrees.
Is mentorship required?
Yes. All scholarship students will be assigned a mentor through College Now beginning the fall after their high school graduation. Students must continue working with an assigned mentor throughout their postsecondary education experience.
Say Yes scholars also must complete mentoring orientation and their online mentee profile form before their high school graduation: Go to www.collegenowgc.org/mentor, click “Join” then “Mentee”. Answer the questions to complete your profile.
What is required to maintain the scholarship?
Students must be enrolled full time (at least 12 credit hours per semester) and work with their assigned mentor.
Students also must meet the same Satisfactory Academic Progress as required by federal guidelines.
Students also must complete the annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Who is administering the scholarship program?
Say Yes Cleveland Scholarship Inc., a locally led nonprofit, is contracting with College Now Greater Cleveland to manage the scholarship and mentor programs. College Now brings 50 years of experience administering scholarships in Northeast Ohio.
What is the Southwest Airlines voucher program?
Say Yes to Education has partnered with Southwest Airlines to provide a limited number of airline vouchers to allow students who meet qualifying criteria and one guardian to visit a university that is a member of the Say Yes Higher Education Compact. Those vouchers will be available to Say Yes Cleveland students starting in 2020.
If a question arises, who should be contacted?
Contact the Say Yes Cleveland Scholarship Hotline, which is administered by College Now Greater Cleveland.