CMSD Students' College Enrollment Up With Help From Say Yes Scholarships

Four students in graduation gowns throwing their caps in the air
Say Yes has raised more than $90 million to provide tuition for eligible CMSD students over the next 25 years. [ConnectingTheDots / Shutterstock.com]
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College enrollment for Cleveland Metropolitan School District students was up four percentage points from the year before. The Say Yes program covered tuition costs for about 720 of those students this fall.

The program, launched in January of this year, provides scholarships up to the full cost of tuition for students in Cleveland public schools. In its first year, Say Yes Cleveland provided roughly $635,000 for tuition.

A release from CMSD said college enrollment hit 44 percent this year, and that number could go up depending on spring semester enrollment counts. It's the first increase the district has seen since 2016, according to CMSD.

Initial estimates aimed for an enrollment increase of about 3 percentage points, said Say Yes Cleveland Communications Director Jon Benedict.

“We're a little outperforming the expectations, which is exactly where we want to be, and really establishing a baseline for going forward that we’re going to look to, to build off of and increase post-secondary pursuits by CMSD graduates each year,” Benedict said.

While earlier counts showed 850 students would be receiving scholarship funding from the program, Benedict said some students received enough state or federal aid to cover tuition costs or chose a college that wasn't part of the program. That brought the number of students who received funding for this semester down to 720. The number could change again as students enroll for the spring semester of this academic year, Benedict said.

The number of students enrolling at four-year institutions remained flat, according to CMSD.

Those factors also impacted the overall payout, Benedict said, and the amount Say Yes spent on tuition was about 40 percent lower than predicted for the program's first year.

Say Yes has raised more than $90 million to provide tuition for eligible CMSD students over the next 25 years. Beginning next year, students will have to be continuously enrolled in CMSD from ninth grade until graduation and reside in Cleveland or the school district.

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