College Tuition Assistance for Volunteer Firefighters

Written By: Kellie Meyer
Volunteer FF Tuition Assistance Program

January 14, 2014

HORSEHEADS (WENY) -- Nicole Wright Campos Serejo is graduating from Corning Community College this May with almost zero college debt. How? Become a volunteer firefighter in New York and they'll thank you by taking care of your tuition.
     "It made it a lot easier to go to school you know," said Nicole Wright Campos Serejo.
     It's all a part of the Firemen's Association of the State of New York's HELP Program- Higher Education Learning Plan. It's a tuition reimbursement program statewide through community colleges, that helps recruit volunteers. Local fire departments have seen their volunteer ranks shrinking over the years.
     John D'Alessandro, FASNY Deputy Volunteer Programs Coordinator said, "about a decade ago we had a little over 110,000 volunteers, we're probably somewhere in the mid 80,000 right now. So we realized that we needed to something before it hit a crisis."
     19 year old Nicole almost didn't apply for the program.
     She adds, "if I didn't do it, I'd have student loans, I wouldn't own a house and I wouldn't be able to go to Brazil to see my husband all the time."
     Nicole has been a volunteer here at the Horseheads Fire Department for almost two years. She says she wouldn't have stopped volunteering but the HELP program allowed her to do it all. 
     "The program made me feel like even if though, somebody wasn't telling me they appreciated my work, it made me feel appreciated," said Nicole.
     Nicole plans to transfer to Elmira College in the fall for pre-med. And although E-C isn't included in the tuition program, the money saved will help her pursue her career even further.
     For more information on the FASNY HELP Program, click here: