A week after hijacked planes destroyed New York City's Twin Towers, Gov. George E. Pataki introduced legislation that, if passed, will provide family members of those killed in the attacks with full scholarships to SUNY institutions or comparable aid to non-public academic institution.
Pataki announced plans Sept. 18 to offer the scholarships immediately, beginning with students enrolled for the 2001-2002 academic year. Children and spouses of victims or emergency medical personnel who were killed or seriously disabled in the New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania attacks will be eligible to receive the scholarship regardless of state citizenship.
"We don't know how many people have been affected and how many people will apply," said Dave Henahan, director of media relations for SUNY. The cost of the financial assistance will not be known until the full mortality count has been determined.
The scholarships will cover the full cost of attending a state university or college, approximately $12,000 per year for tuition, room and board, fees, books, supplies and transportation costs. Students who elect to attend a private institution will receive an equivalent financial package.
Although the proposal has not been finalized, SUNY has already begun the process by contacting universities and gathering data on how many students were directly affected. At UB, Vice President for Student Affairs Dennis Black said he and Senior Associate Vice President of University Services Kevin Seitz have been responsible for collecting "what we know about the families."
Although he was unable to give an estimate of what the scholarships will cost the university, Black pointed out that children of those killed or injured in the attack could conceivably be attending college 18 years from now.
The aid will take affect immediately, said Henahan, because "we want to be able to help students this year."
The scholarship is being modeled after a pre-existing scholarship that guarantees children of New York firefighters or policemen killed in the line of duty a college education.
New York is not the only state to offer a survivor scholarship. Connecticut Gov. John Rowland has proposed a similar measure that will cover only Connecticut residents whose parents or guardians were killed in the attacks. Rutgers University has also made a similar offer to New Jersey residents. New York University, Keuka College, Columbia University, Long Island University and Fordham University have all begun to create scholarships to offer to victims' families.
The U.S. Department of Education directed federal education lenders to grant borrowers affected by the tragedies until January 2002 to begin repaying their loans.