Bill Creates WTC
Governor George E. Pataki has signed into law legislation to establish the World Trade Center Memorial scholarship Program. The program will provide college scholarships to family members and dependents of those killed or seriously disabled in the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and to survivors who were seriously disabled.
The bill also expands the existing memorial scholarships for children and spouses of deceased firefighters, police officers and peace officers to include emergency medical technicians who have died in the line of duty.
"Every day since September 11, we have stood with the families of the victims of this horrific attack, and today we build on our pledge to them by enacting this valuable program," Governor Pataki said. "These families should not have to worry about how they are going to pay for college, and with this measure, they will never have to worry. This new law will ensure that the families of those who lost loved ones will receive our support not only today, but in five, ten, or twenty years, when they are ready to attend college."
Shortly after the attacks on September 11, Governor Pataki issued an executive order directing the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) to immediately begin providing this benefit to deserving families.
This legislation affirms the Governor's executive order and expands the scholarship program. Under the program, immediate family members or financial dependents of those killed or seriously and permanently disabled and survivors who were seriously and permanently disabled in the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania will be eligible for a free education at the State University of New York (SUNY), City University of New York (CUNY), expands it to provide an equivalent amount of aid to attend a private college in New York State.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said, "The tragic events of September 11 produced a loss of security, loss of freedom, economic losses, and an incalculable loss of human life. This legislation is designed to help the families of those victims recover and rebuild from the tragedy. By offering a college education we can provide some hope and optimism for these families who have gone through such unimaginable heartbreak and sorrow."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "Caring for New York's families has long been a priority of the Assembly Majority. Our ongoing commitment to standing by those who endured devastating losses on September 11 remains ever vigilant. The World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship Program continues that pledge, honors the memory of those who were lost and ensures that families continue receiving much needed support."
Yesenia Ielpi, mother of two and widow of Jonathan Lee Ielpi, NYFD, Squad Company 288, said, "Governor Pataki has been there for the families of September 11. His continued support brings us tremendous comfort and we thank him once again for leadership."
William Rodriguez, Director of 911 United Services Group, and President of Hispanic Victims Group said, "This is such a great day for the families of the victims, and the survivors who have suffered so much since September 11. Thanks to the Governor, these children will have an opportunity to attend college and create a wonderful future for themselves."
The program will be open to any immediate family member or financial dependent of any victim and is available to both residents and non-residents of New York State. In addition, eligible New York State residents who were attending college outside of the State on September 11, 2001 will be able to receive an award otherwise available for attending a college within the State.
The plan will cover the cost of items such as tuition, room and board, fees, books, supplies and transportation. The benefit would be available for four years of full-time undergraduate study (or five years for certain five-year baccalaureate programs).
The current average cost of attendance at a SUNY four-year college is nearly $12,000 per year, including tuition, room & board, fees, books, supplies and transportation. At today's costs, the new scholarship would be valued at more than $47,5000 for four years of study.
The legislation is effective immediately and will be in effect for the 2001-02 academic year. The Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) will administer the initiative.