For a detailed walk-through of the scholarship process and requirements,
WHAT ARE SAY YES SCHOLARSHIPS?
There are two types of tuition scholarships:
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR SAY YES SCHOLARSHIPS?
To be eligible for a Say Yes scholarship, students must be continuously enrolled in a CMSD, and live continuously within the city of Cleveland, or one of the areas served by CMSD*, from 9th grade through graduation.
Students in classes of ’19, ’20, ’21, and ’22 must meet the residency and enrollment requirements as of Jan. 18, 2019.
*Students who reside in Bratenahl, Linndale, Newburgh Heights, and parts of Brook Park and Garfield Heights assigned to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and who meet enrollment requirements also are eligible.
Don’t know if you live in 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. (Any addresses in the City of Cleveland that are not within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are still eligible as long as the student is continuously enrolled in a CMSD high school from 9th grade through graduation.)
WHAT ELSE IS REQUIRED FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP?
Students must be accepted to the school or participating program through the standard admission process.
Students also must be enrolled full time in the 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 standard 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 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.
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.
ARE STUDENTS CURRENTLY IN THE 9TH, 10TH, 11TH, OR 12TH GRADES 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 to apply to participate in Say Yes.
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.
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 2021, the online application is available here.
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 cost of tuition and standard 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 cost of tuition and standard 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 standard 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.
IF A STUDENT IS NOTIFIED THAT HE OR SHE IS ELIGIBLE FOR 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 two, 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 full-time 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 A 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.
CAN A STUDENT TRANSFER TO A DIFFERENT POSTSECONDARY PROGRAM?
Students and families need to carefully consider transferring institutions and the implications of the Say Yes scholarship. As a first step to ensure that students have a full understanding of their transfer plans and the potential impact to their Say Yes scholarship, students need to contact the College Now Say Yes scholarship team at email@example.com or 216.454.5400.
If a student begins at an Ohio public institution and is receiving a tuition scholarship and transfers to another Ohio public institution, they would still be eligible for a Say Yes scholarship but calculated at the new tuition rate.
If a student transfers from an Ohio public institution to a Say Yes Compact private institution, however, the student may no longer be eligible for any Say Yes scholarship aid as those dollars are awarded by the institution and oftentimes limited to first year students, not transfer students. Students should check with the institution and find out.
If a student transfers from a Say Yes Compact private institution to an Ohio public institution, the student will be eligible for the tuition scholarship but number of eligible semesters of funding available needs to be confirmed.
IF A SCHOLARSHIP QUESTION ARISES, WHO SHOULD BE CONTACTED?
Contact the Say Yes Cleveland Scholarship Hotline, which is administered by College Now Greater Cleveland.
** Special Coronavirus Policy Update for Classes of 2019 and 2020
At Say Yes Cleveland, we know that students and families have faced unprecedented times and unique needs in the age of the coronavirus, many of which will, undoubtedly, impact the trajectory of recent graduates’ postsecondary journeys. Say Yes scholarships are designed to support students throughout their postsecondary endeavors and always give students the flexibility to stop out for up to one full academic year (two semesters) and still maintain scholarship eligibility. In light of the coronavirus, a new, short-term policy has been created for the CMSD graduating Classes of 2019 and 2020 to increase the flexibility of Say Yes scholarships and support students’ postsecondary endeavors during this health crisis.
This policy, created by the Say Yes Scholarship Board, gives CMSD graduates from the high school Classes of 2019 and 2020 two additional semesters of eligibility in which to use their Say Yes scholarship dollars. Students from the Classes of 2019 and 2020 now have 6 years (12 semesters) to use 4 years (eight semesters) of scholarship funding.
This short-term policy ensures that students from the CMSD Classes of 2019 and 2020 who have already stopped out for one or more semesters – or delayed the start of their postsecondary education – will not be negatively impacted in their eligibility for Say Yes scholarship dollars.