Scholarships Keep Students Studying on Long Island

By Amanda Bernocco

The Stay on Long Island Initiative Scholarship has been the key to Suffolk County Community College students’ futures since 2010. It is a scholarship designed to give a full- tuition or partial scholarship to students who are involved with their school and community while maintaining a 3.75 GPA or higher. SoLII is an innovative program designed to help the top graduates from Suffolk continue their education on Long Island.

The scholarship began when Dr. Steve Epstein, head of honors on the Grant campus, saw that Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus gives a full tuition scholarship to a graduate from Nassau community college every semester. Dr. Epstein and Dr. Shaun McKay, President of Suffolk, negotiated with C.W. Post to receive a scholarship for a student at all three of their campuses. Dr. McKay announced
the scholarship in his inaugural address in Sept. 2010.

Since 2010 the SoLII program has been booming. There are currently nine colleges participating: Adelphi University, Dowling College, Five Towns College, Hofstra University, New York Institute of Technology, St. Joseph’s College, St. John’s University, Long Island University at Riverhead and C.W. Post. Long Island University’s Brentwood campus is projected to be added to the list for next semester, according to Carla Sutherland, Campus Liaison at the Eastern campus. SUNY colleges are not involved because they do not offer full- tuition scholarships to anyone.

To apply for the scholarship your cumulative GPA must be at least a 3.75 by the end of your third semester or have at least 45 credits. Sutherland said that there are always people who apply who have less than a 3.75. If you apply with a lower GPA you will not be eligible for the award. Applicants must also be a
full time student and be expecting to graduate at the end of the semester. By applying for the scholarship, you are not applying to the college; students must apply for transfer admission separately. It is also required of all applicants to write an essay, and send two letters of recommendation from an academic professor and a club advisor.

After the deadline, there will be a committee of faculty members reviewing the applications. Nicole Lui, from the Ammerman Campus, Carla Sutherland, from the Eastern campus, and Sandra Gattuso, from the Grant campus will appoint three applicants from their campuses to Dr. McKay. Dr. McKay will then personally recommend students to the colleges of their choice for the SoLII scholarship.

“They all have personal stories that just grab you,” Sutherland said about student applications. “It is so hard to choose,” she added. Last semester 38 scholarships were given out; 23 of those were partial scholarships. Some colleges that participate only offer one full tuition scholarship for the whole school. All of the participating schools give partial scholarships. Lui said that this scholarship is very effective because many students only apply to one school because of financial issues.

Gattuso said that the scholarship helps students strive to do better and get a higher GPA. She also added that it is a great initiative for students to stay at Suffolk long enough to get their Associate’s Degree, increase the graduation rate and cause the honors program to grow.

In addition to getting financial assistance from the scholarship, Dr. Epstein and Dr. McKay added another benefit to the scholarship called the Scholar- to- Scholar program. They created the program to help the students’ transition tothe partner colleges. The program includes enhanced educational activities to give students a chance to visit professors, campuses and other students from partner colleges. Last year a Dowling professor came to the Ammerman campus to speak with the marine science club, according to Lui.

Somepartner colleges also allow students to take classes at their college while they are in their second year at Suffolk. The classes are transferred back to Suffolk to count toward the associate degree. To take these classes students pay a reduced tuition rate, or just an admission fee. Financial aid may also be increased to cover the extra cost of attending two colleges.

Lui said that the scholarship “gives students an insight on how professors teach and it gives students and insights to colleges.”

Next semester Sutherland is thinking about sending the names of all the students that apply that are eligible to the partner colleges of choice of the students. She wants to ask what the college can do for these students. She said that the scholarships give students more options and relieve a lot of their financial stress.

“The scholarship is really effective, it is really growing,” Gattuso said. Lui is expecting more students to apply next semester because more scholarships will be available.

The deadline for the SoLII scholarship for the spring semester is going to fall in early February. “Keep up your grades, make sure you stay involved and know your professors” Lui advises students planning to apply in the future.

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