11 more private colleges join Say Yes to Education Compact

Cornell University, Princeton University and Dartmouth College have joined the expanding

Say Yes to Education

program best known for providing high school students a tuition-free path to college.

Say Yes founder George Weiss says Wednesday the addition of the Ivy League institutions, along with eight other private college and universities, brings to 54 the number in the Say Yes Higher Education Compact, whose members waive tuition for eligible students.

The announcement was made Wednesday by Weiss and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Capitol Hill. "Say Yes has always been about hope," Mr. Weiss said. "By standing with Say Yes, what these private colleges and universities are saying is that our students will have the same opportunities as anyone else in this wonderful country of ours."

Say Yes began by working with small groups of students but has shifted to work with entire cities.

In Syracuse

and Buffalo, any public or charter school graduate can get a scholarship.

Say Yes has been working with the Syracuse City School District since 2008 and with the Buffalo Public Schools since 2012. The organization is based in New York City and serves nearly 65,000 children, according to a media release. Private colleges and universities in the Compact usually offer full tuition to accepted Say Yes scholars whose annual family income is at or below $75,000.

President Barak Obama highlighted the Say Yes to Education Program

during his speech at Henninger High School

in Syracuse last month.

"Higher education remains one of the clearest paths to the middle class in this country â?? and it must be within reach for anyone willing to work their hardest, and earn their degree,â??â?? Senator Gillibrand said. "Say Yes makes this possible. I saw it in action during one of my very first visits to Syracuse as Senator. I saw right away the effectiveness of local stakeholders at every level working together to support students at every step of the way.

The newly added colleges also include Hamilton, Pomona and Rhodes colleges, Paul Smith's College of the Adirondacks, Vanderbilt, Rice and Denison universities and Sewanee: The University of the South.