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New Challenge Grant at Cayuga supports graduates from college’s Nursing Program

An anonymous donor has worked with the Cayuga Community College Foundation to create a challenge grant supporting students graduating from Cayuga Community College’s Nursing Program.

The anonymous supporter donated $2,000 to honor the dedication of students joining Upstate New York’s healthcare system in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation is seeking additional contributions to match the donation. The grant will cover fees for Nursing program graduates to take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX). 

Foundation Executive Director Guy Cosentino thanked the donor for their support of the College and graduates from the Nursing program, and felt confident other community members would step forward to match the contribution. 


“We are thrilled for the support from one of our alumni and his wife, who live outside of New York. While not in the healthcare field, they know that the pandemic has put a premium on educating and recruiting the compassionate and qualified students that Cayuga’s program has long produced,” said Cosentino. “Their hope,” he went on to say, “is to generate interest from other donors to help those who enter this tough field to cover the costs of their exams.”

“We thank Cayuga Community College for the development of an innovative and high-impact program that honors healthcare workers and supports young adults through this grant.  Both groups were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. We urge others to voice a ‘thank you’ to healthcare professionals while encouraging young adult career development by matching our contributions,” said the donors.


“Every year we have students who have to delay taking the NCLEX because they can’t afford the test and registration fees, and this results in them delaying the next step beginning their career as a nurse,” said Cayuga Nursing Director Mary Driscoll. “We appreciate this generous gift and believe it will be essential in covering required exam costs for our students so that they can join the healthcare field and begin caring for those in need.”

The NCLEX is a required exam for aspiring registered nurses to test their knowledge and training. Students are required to pay a $200 fee to sit for the exam, and another $143 registration fee if they take the test in New York. Other sources of financial support for students, such as Pell Grants and the New York State Tuition Assistance Program, do not cover the test fees.

Cayuga’s Nursing Program is one of the most successful associate degree programs in the state, and in 2021 was named the top associate’s degree program for nursing in New York by Nursing Schools Almanac. 


Of associate’s degree programs in New York, Cayuga’s pass rate of 98.1 percent for first-time NCLEX test-takers was the top score from 2011 through 2020. From 2011 through 2021, 437 of 445 graduates from the College’s program passed the exam on their first try, including all 32 graduates from the program’s 2021 class.

The program emphasizes professional standards, clinical judgments based on evidence-based practice, patient-centered care and advocacy, leadership and communication. Students experience a variety of clinical settings, preparing them to provide care for patients of any age.


For more information about the Nursing Program, visit here.

Donations can be sent to the Foundation Office at 197 Franklin Street, Auburn, New York 13021, or be made online at the Foundation’s secure portal.



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