Whether it’s a technical or Ivy League university – Say Yes to Education is partnering with state schools and private universities to make sure Guilford County graduates can go to college.
“I told people this year- we're celebrating our seniors, but next year we're celebrating our kindergartners to remind them that they too, can go to Harvard if they want to,” said Mary Vigue, Say Yes director.
Betty Lulseged just graduated from Northwest Guilford High and is Harvard-bound.
When asked if she ever dreamed of attending Harvard, Lulseged’s response was honest.
“No way! Oh my gosh, no. Even when I was writing my application, I didn't think I'd get in. I was like- why am I doing this? I'm not gonna get in, what's the point, she said. “But my dad pushed me - he was like why not? You never know what's going to happen! And he was right.”
“Because my parents offered to pay for my college education, but I didn't want them to be overburdened with $200,000 in debt, so financial aid was very important to me.”
Fortunately, she is getting some financial aid from Harvard.
Say Yes is helping her as well, supported by fundraising from the Community Foundation.
“They have been our key fundraisers throughout this process," Vigue said. To date, we've raised over $35 million here in Guilford toward those last dollar tuition scholarships, and without that fundraising, we wouldn't be where we are"
The $35 million is more than half way to their $70 million goal.
Vigue says this year they want to help parents navigate the FASFA application process, and figure out how to address expensive college application fees.
“We would love to raise more than just what the goal is because that would mean we could pay for more than just tuition but we keep our eye on that goal of $70 million and I'm sure with the community foundation's help, we'll get there,” she said.
“People question going to college because of the sheer expense of it. So with Say YES, they have the ability to go and pursue that education and follow their dreams. And I just think it's an amazing opportunity.”