October 5, 2012

Plan offers college tuition reimbursement


---- — NEW YORK — The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York is offering its Higher Education Learning Plan, a statewide college tuition reimbursement program, for the third semester.

Many fire departments are experiencing a need to recruit and retain more members, and the association believes tuition reimbursement is an effective incentive for people to volunteer.

More than 250 students applied to use the program at more than 20 community colleges. The deadline to apply for tuition reimbursement has been extended to Oct. 15.

Under the program, people who haven’t already achieved a college degree or taken 80 or more college credits can have up to 100 percent of their tuition reimbursed in exchange for maintaining good grades and fulfilling service requirements in a volunteer fire company.

There is no restriction on the type of academic courses the student/volunteer firefighter can pursue on a full-time or part-time basis.

The funds can be used for tuition costs incurred in the fall and spring semesters.

Participants must maintain acceptable volunteer activity and training levels while attending school and fulfill a service requirement after they complete their studies.

They must attend the closest community college or one within a 50-mile radius of their residence.

“We are in need of dedicated volunteers to serve their local communities, as the number of volunteer firefighters has declined over the last few years,” association President Jim Burns said in a news release. “We encourage students to take advantage of FASNY HELP, a key aspect of FASNY’s multi-pronged recruitment and retention campaign.”

The program is made possible by the $4.2 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant.

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