NY Launches Free College Raffle For Kids Who Get Vaccinated

free college
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a new vaccine incentive for young New Yorkers between the ages of 12 and 17 who receive a Covid-19 vaccine to be eligible for a chance of 50 full tuition scholarships, including room and board, at a state university or local government community college in New York State. (Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

By Briana Bonfiglio and Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Young people ages 12 to 17 who get vaccinated for Covid-19 between May 27 and July 7 will have a chance to win a full scholarship to a SUNY or CUNY school, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.

The “Get a Shot to Make Your Future” incentive will award 10 scholarships per week, every Wednesday beginning June 2, for the next five weeks. Each scholarship will cover tuition, room, and board. Parents, guardians, and students can register to learn more about the random drawings here.

“You’re 12 to 17. You’re planning on going to college. You are wondering about how you’re going to pay for it. This is a full four-year scholarship to a SUNY school, to a CUNY school, to a community college, then moving on to a four-year program,” Cuomo said during a news conference. “So it’s a significant incentive for students, and by the way, it’s an incentive for parents. For parents, you’re worried about paying college tuition, tell your 12- to 17-year-old, go out, get a shot, it protects the family, protects the 12- to 17-year-old, and they are then eligible for a raffle. And again, it’s going to be among a small population, so your odds are good because it’s only the population that has been vaccinated.”

Federal Covid-19 relief and outreach funds will be used to cover the cost of this vaccination incentive program, according to a press release from the governor’s office. A total of 50 young people will win full scholarships to any public college or university.

The state is offering the scholarship to help boost interest in getting the vaccine as vaccination rates across the state take a downward turn. On Wednesday, Cuomo said state officials have seen a 47 percent decline in the number of people getting the vaccine.

About 52 percent of New York State residents have received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, with about 45 percent now vaccinated against the virus, according to the New York state COVID-19 tracker. 

The state is targeting the 12- to 17-year-old population because it is the age group with the least percentage of people vaccinated in the state, Cuomo said, with 8.7 percent of 12- to 17-year-old inoculated for Covid-19.

According to the state, children ages 12 to 17 make up for 5 percent of the state’s overall number of Covid-19 tests but 10 percent of its positivity rate. “That’s the highest differential of any age group,” Cuomo said. “That group is the lowest percent vaccinated by far in the state.”

Children 12 and up only became eligible to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine earlier this month and unlike other groups, have not been as pressingly encouraged to get the shot. Now, the governor says, young people are a priority when it comes to the battle against Covid due to plans to fully reopen schools, colleges, and universities across the state.

“So what do we do. We identify the need, increasing participation, especially among the young people and get creative,” Cuomo said.

The governor stressed that students who get the first shot of the vaccine earlier have a better chance of being winning a scholarship since they remain in the raffle pool every week.

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