Kids ages 12 to 17 who opt to get fully vaccinated for Covid-19 will be entered into a random drawing to win a full college scholarship, including room and board costs, to a SUNY or CUNY institution, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has announced.
The initiative will award 10 scholarships per week for five weeks, with winners drawn randomly from among vaccinated entrants. Everyone in this age group is eligible, regardless of when they receive the vaccine. The prizes are for a full two, four, or five-year scholarship, depending on the academic program a student chooses.
The governor called the opportunity "life-changing" for the winners, not only for their health but also for their educational future.
"Vaccination rates across the state are beginning to slow, and our greatest need is with young New Yorkers, who make up a large percent of positive cases and have the lowest vaccination percentage in the state," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "To better reach this population and defeat COVID once and for all, we need to get creative in our efforts."
Winners will have their vaccination status verified by both the New York State Health Department and the state's Higher Education Services Corporation. The money to support the incentive will come from federal Covid-19 relief programs.
Jim Malatras, SUNY chancellor, noting that students have been challenged "time and time again" by Covid-19, said that "they have done everything we asked of them over the past year to keep our campuses open and safe."
"With vaccinations as the key to a more normal academic and campus experience," he said in a statement, "this scholarship incentive can help ensure our entire campus communities have a safe and full college experience this fall semester."