New partnership in Rockland aims to attract and keep volunteer firefighters
St. Thomas Aquinas College announced a new partnership this week to provide tuition scholarships to those who serve with a local first responder agency.
STAC students who are members of the Sparkill Palisades Fire Department will get a 50% discount on tuition.
News 12 is told that could save an average of $75,000 total over four years.
A member's spouse, child or grandchild will see a 25% discount.
The college is within the firehouse’s response area.
"It gives us an opportunity to support our local volunteer fire department,” said Ken Daly, president at St. Thomas Aquinas College. “At the same time, it creates a pipeline of future firefighters for them and a pipeline of future students for us."
Fire Chief Mike Yannazzone believes this effort will help them attract and keep volunteer members. It’s an issue many other agencies are dealing with countywide.
"If we can get them as freshmen and keep them for four years, that's four years of service that hopefully they can contribute. So it's a positive thing,” said Yannazzone.
News 12 spoke with two students in their senior year who are volunteer firefighters.
"I’ve always grown up with the mentality of helping others,” said Alan Lin.
"I’ve always wanted to do something that's bigger than myself,” said Tara Hagan.
They will be able to benefit from the tuition scholarships in the spring semester before they graduate.
Rockland County recently launched the Higher Education Recruitment and Retention Opportunities program, or HERRO.
It could provide up to $6,000 a year in tuition reimbursement for college students who are with volunteer first responder agencies in the county.