Make It Happen for a SUNY Empire Student

The Fund for SUNY Empire State College

The 20-Year Bachelor's Degree: Blain Smith '20

Despite a strong desire to be the first in his family to earn a college degree, there came a point in Blain Smith’s educational journey where he felt like giving up. “I decided to accept that I would never earn my degree,” he says.

Smith spent nearly two decades in pursuit of the “right fit.” He looked for it at RPI, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Bentley College, and Harvard. He found it at SUNY Empire State College.

"Things just clicked. By the time I discovered SUNY Empire, I had a son and needed a college that accommodated working adults. I looked into online programs, but it seemed to be a new concept for brick-and-mortar schools. If I did online courses at a school that only kind of knew what it was doing, it’d be a frustrating process," Blain says.

He spent the next three years at SUNY Empire, taking courses to earn his B.S. in computer science. "I could see the light at the end of a very long tunnel I entered 20 years ago as an 18-year-old kid. The SUNY Empire vision meshed with what I wanted: to build a reputable degree based on industry standards, with the understanding that I have a life," he says. He graduated this past spring.

Be Part of the Story

SUNY Empire State College has been part of 87,000 such stories. Our innovation and flexibility allow us to meet students where they are, while providing quality academic programming that empowers them to take charge of their education.

Transforming the lives of students like Blain is what SUNY Empire State College does every day. But, every day, many of our students are forced to make the difficult decision to put off their dreams due to financial hardship. No deserving student should have to choose between paying rent or paying tuition.

This is where the Fund for SUNY Empire State College steps in. With help from generous alumni, employees, and friends, The Fund for SUNY Empire supports students by alleviating some of their financial burden.

Join Us

You can play a critical role in our students’ success stories. Make it happen by making your gift to the Fund today at

For more information, contact Stephanie Corp, Director of The Fund for SUNY Empire, at or (518) 587-2100 ext. 2773.

SUNY Empire Students by the Numbers:

  • 67% are 25-49 years old
  • 14% are 50-64 years old
  • 57,000 credits awarded for work and life experience in 2019
  • More than 50% work full time while attending SUNY Empire
  • At least 85% work at least part time while attending SUNY Empire
  • 60% of undergraduate students receive financial support
  • 84% of alumni say their degree increased their earning potential
  • At least 40% are first-generation college students
  • 91,000 alumni worldwide living in:
    • 59 counties in New York state
    • 23 states across the country
    • 19 countries around the world

Your Gifts at Work:

  • In 2020-2021 the SUNY Empire Foundation provided nearly $1.7 million to support college programs and initiatives. More than $955,000 of that was for student scholarships and activities.
  • Scholarship recipients were nearly three times more likely to complete their courses than non-recipients.


We are always happy to hear from alumni, students and other friends of the college.

For general inquiries, dial extension 2248.
Our fax number is (518) 580-0700.