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Tenth year of Vallone scholarships

Grace Betancourt, 21-year-old Queens College student from Woodhaven, imagines that she would have had to take out loans to pay for her degree. However, Betancourt, a former New York City public high school student, graduated with good grades and earned the Vallone scholarship - specifically engineered for city kids.
“It’s great because college isn’t just about tuition. There are things like books and other expenses, and to know that you are going to receive some kind of help takes a bit of the stress out of it,” the political science major said at a press conference celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the scholarship.
During the event, held on Friday, September 7 at Queens College, President James Muyskens said that the scholarship gives money to the one the top groups of students the college hopes to attract - city kids with good grades.
Moreover, elected officials praised Vallone Scholarship founder, the former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., for instituting the program.
Thanks to the Vallone Scholarship, said Jeff Leb, Chief of Staff for Councilmember James Gennaro, Queens has the most recipients out of the five boroughs, and more students from Gennaro’s district receive the award than any other area in the borough. About 10,000 students citywide - and 3,800 kids in Queens - received the scholarship in fall 2007.
Vallone, Sr. thanked Councilmembers Peter Vallone, Jr., Leroy Comrie, and Gennaro for continuing to fund the program.
“Education is only possible if you can afford it, and when I went to college and law school, education was affordable to everyone,” Vallone, Sr. said. In handing out the scholarship, officials are telling recipients, “You have a shot at the best education in the world,” Vallone, Sr. added.
To qualify, kids must graduate a city public school with an 80 or above average, pass at least 12 college prep courses, and enroll in a City University of New York (CUNY) within one year of graduation. In addition, students must submit the FAFSA form to apply for the maximum $1,250 per year towards their associate’s or bachelor’s degree. In addition, recipients like Betancourt must maintain an average of B or above to renew the scholarship each year.
“I knew if I kept my grades up, I would get the scholarship again,” Betancourt said.
Each year the City Council appropriates funds for the program, but elected officials have pushed for the city to institutionalize the scholarship.
“We need to make sure that this is a mayoral priority … before we leave in 2009,” Comrie said.
Comrie told the crowd that his own child will enter high school next year, and Vallone’s daughter started eighth grade this year.
“I want to make sure that the Vallone Scholarship is there when they are starting high school,” Comrie said.

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