New Tuition Grant Program Unveiled for First Responders

[Syracuse University News] New Tuition Grant Program Unveiled for First Responders

Campus & Community

When Liz Green prepares for roll call next month in front of a precinct of City of Syracuse police officers, she plans to be a myth-buster—at least when it comes to higher education. On behalf of the College of Professional Studies, Green will be offering Syracuse police and firefighters an opportunity to advance their education and careers under a new grant program at the college.

“We are making it more affordable than ever for first responders to achieve undergraduate certificates, and undergraduate and graduate degrees,” says Green, executive director of online student success in the college. The new tuition grant program is another component of the Go Local Learn Local initiative, which recently expanded opportunities for health care workers in the region. Similar to the health care worker grant, first responders will be able to earn degrees through online part-time studies at a fraction of the normal cost.

“But first we have to overcome some negative perceptions—concerns they might have over not being able to do their studies while doing their jobs, or not being able to afford a higher education degree,” says Green. By appearing in person, Green hopes to build trust with the community’s public servants—trust in the University and trust in themselves and their abilities to excel.

“Just as they serve the entire city, police and firefighters serve our university community every day. We want to support and strengthen them,” says Michael Frasciello, dean of the College of Professional Studies. “As part of Syracuse University’s commitment to community, we have an obligation to be an innovator in providing education, training, services and support. Our greatest asset is our excellence in teaching and learning. We should be providing as many pathways to that excellence as we can.”

All full-time and part-time first responders in the City of Syracuse are now eligible to apply for online professional certificates and undergraduate degrees in a wide variety of subjects, including data and predictive analytics, business management, cybersecurity, leadership and project management. The cost for admitted and eligible first responders represents a significant discount (50% of the normal part-time tuition rate, and an 89% discount off the full-time tuition rate).

In addition, all first responders throughout the entire state of New York who already have an undergraduate degree can apply for a 30-credit hour online graduate degree in project management at the discounted rate of $1,000 per credit hour.

“Everyone at every level of every organization does project management in some way,” says Frasciello. “The more training and skills acquired in all the dimensions and practice of project management, the more valuable individuals will be in their workplace. They become proficient in asset resource usage, time management, delegation and staff management.”

Frasciello says the offerings for undergraduate degrees and professional certificates are based on the rapidly changing needs of employers and employees to “upskill and reskill” to meet industry demands. For example, police officers are increasingly adding skills in research and data analysis. “So much of modern policing is digital, involving sifting through and analyzing large amounts of data,” he says. “That’s why our data science courses will be valuable.”

Frasciello expects police officers, many of whom have associate degrees in criminal justice, to pursue policy studies and other courses that will help them progress in their careers in the public sector and pivot to the private sector. “We know there’s a great interest in business management and creative leadership as well,” he says.

Interest in continuing education through online programs increased dramatically during the pandemic and Syracuse University’s programs have expanded dramatically to meet student needs. “It’s crucial for continuing education leaders to engage with people who live in the area and respond with programming that residents and employers find valuable,” says Frasciello. “We are the gateway to the University for the community.”

For more information on how to enroll, visit the College of Professional Studies website.