Assemblyman Steve Labriola announced recently that a volunteer Recruitment Scholarship program for members of volunteer firefighting companies and ambulance companies was included in the 2002-03 state budget. The program is based on a concept proposed by Labriola in 1997.
"Volunteer fire and ambulance companies provide an important and invaluable service to communities all across the state and deserve our support in their efforts to recruit and retain personnel and the volunteers deserve the educational opportunities this program provides," said Labriola.
The incentive program avails volunteer firefighters and ambulance companies the benefits of a college education by providing the opportunity to attend New York state universities and community colleges tuition-free and earn college credit for those courses in a chosen field of study. At least 580 scholarships will be awarded for this $2 million program slated to begin in the 2002-03 academic year.
According to Labriola, in order for an applicant to be eligible he or she must:
* Be a volunteer with the fire or ambulance company for less than six months, or under the age of 23;
* Maintain active volunteer status, as defined by the fire or ambulance company;
* Be a New York state resident;
* Attend a college or university in New York state, within 50 miles of the company nominating the applicant;
* Apply for all federal and state financial aid;
* Have graduated from high school or have received a high school equivalency diploma, but not have a baccalaureate or higher degree;
* Be a degree-seeking student; and,
* Maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average to continue receiving the tuition benefit.
"This program is in response to the shortage of emergency service volunteers and is intended to be a recruitment, not a retention initiative," said Labriola. "I urge all fire and ambulance companies in my district to nominate one candidate for this scholarship award."