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(continued from previous page) see aid from Say Yes for the 2017 spring semester, that may be the last money they see. The organization has announced that students will ?not be grandfathered into? the program and details about how the coming changes to Say Yes will affect payment for current students are still being worked out. Many students are right now making their college decisions and financial arrangements for the 2017 school year or have made them already. The news of what will need to be radical changes to the program has left many parents and their kids who were counting on Say Yes very angry. Many students based their decision of where to attend college on the promise of Say Yes money for that institution. In some cases they chose higher-priced schools than they could have afforded without Say Yes funding, and they may have, for instance, chosen an in-state school largely or only because they had the promise that Say Yes would help cover the cost of their education while there. Some students are very upset because they gave up scholarships to out-of-state colleges to go to one of the in-state schools that has an agreement with Say Yes. If the parents and students in those situations had known the money wasn?t going to be available for the entire college career of that student, they might have chosen a different college. Also, in some cases, families who were planning to move to another county or state a year and a half ago have remained in Guilford County because of the promise of Say Yes money years down the line. In other cases, the highly touted Say Yes program was one of the main reasons families chose to move to Guilford County. As soon as Say Yes announced the changes, there was a string of angry posts on the Say Yes organization?s Facebook page, and most of those people clicked the ?angry? emoji to accompany their post. A statement by Marian Steele was typical: ?So basically it?s a BS program,? that post read. ?It was one of the few ways my family could benefit as we earn too much for qualifying for need based financial aid yet we have nowhere near enough to pay out of pocket. Thanks a lot for nothing! And WHY is this not being loudly advertised www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 so that kids don?t have false hope?!?!? Super angry [about] this. If you are going to change the program you have the OBLIGATION to let people know!!!!!!!? Another expectant beneficiary of the program, Bonnie Thyer, posted, ?Seniors needed to know this information last fall when applying to colleges! They have made decisions based on the promises of this program. For most it is too late to change or to apply to other colleges. Very disappointing!!? But it wasn?t just on Facebook where emotions ran high. One high-ranking Guilford County Schools official who asked not to be named said: ?I am appalled that that organization would come in here and do that to our students. In the worst case, I would hope they could continue to fund the education of those in college now.? ?How in the world could you miss it by that much?? the school official continued. ?If I were a wealthy benefactor and you had come to me and said that that burden would be $500 million, I would say, ?Forget it ? you will never raise that much.? Among the many questions now filling the air are whether lawsuits might be filed by those affected families, as well as questions as to whether contributors who have promised money to Say Yes will be obligated to fulfill those pledges now that the program will be different from the one they initially agreed to fund. Say Yes currently has $42 million in pledges and commitments; however, that money was pledged to an organization committed to providing last-dollar funding to families of all income levels, and once Say Yes announces its new model at the end of the month, it will be a different program than the one that has secured the $42 million in commitments over the last two years. Paul Lessard, the founder and president of the High Point Community Foundation, said publicly this week that it is possible the new version of Say Yes will attract more money because of the change. Lessard said some people and businesses were reluctant to give money to a program that helped middle class and well off people. ?I think we didn?t get some money because they saw the universality of it initially, so I?m very optimistic that I think this may bring in more gifts,? he said. Others, however, argue that many donors never would have given money in the first place if the actual numbers had been known, and now, of course, (continued on page 11)

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