SEMYO Tuition Assistance Program
Southeastern Minnesota Youth Orchestras (SEMYO) is dedicated to ensuring families can participate in our program regardless of the ability to pay tuition. SEMYO is also committed to increasing access to high-quality music education programs and expanding opportunities to learn and study music on a variety of orchestral instruments.
If the cost of tuition is a barrier to joining SEMYO, families are encouraged to apply for financial aid. All applications are confidential and are only viewed by the tuition assistance committee and select administrative staff. SEMYO conductors and teaching artists are not informed of which students are receiving financial aid. SEMYO will begin accepting applications in June.
In addition to tuition assistance, SEMYO also offers a 20% discount for families with 2 or more children enrolled in SEMYO and a 40% discount for families traveling more than 40 miles to the SEMYO rehearsal location.
Overview of Tuition Assistance
SEMYO will offer several forms of need-based financial aid for the 2023-2024 season:
- Tuition Assistance
- Private Lesson Assistance
- Mike Smith Memorial Scholarship
- For returning Bravura Strings and Prelude Winds students
- Includes tuition and lesson assistance
(There is one application for the above listed assistance programs, and families may apply for more than one program. To apply, families will need to complete an online application and submit the front page of your federal income tax return (form 1040) or other documentation showing income or unemployment status. Families with multiple children in SEMYO only need to complete one application.)
SEMYO will also offer a limited number of instrument incentive scholarships that reduce tuition by 50% for students who play string bass, viola, trombone, tuba, bassoon, or oboe. To apply for an instrument incentive scholarship, a recommendation from the student’s music teacher is required and families must submit an online application.
Before applying for tuition assistance or scholarships, please read the descriptions and instructions for each type of assistance.
Tuition Assistance Description and Application Process
Tuition assistance reduces the total cost of tuition between 10-75% based on family’s income, number of children in the household, number of children participating in SEMYO, and other extenuating circumstances. The final award is based on a sliding scale with lower income households receiving a higher percentage of assistance. Families are eligible for tuition assistance regardless of whether they are participating for one or two trimesters, or for the entire year.
The following are general guidelines for approval of tuition assistance:
- Families who qualify for free or reduced lunch will be approved for financial assistance once their application is received.
- All families with a household income of $79,000 or below will receive some assistance.
- As funding allows, applications will be considered for families at all income levels with consideration given for number of children in the household, number of children in SEMYO, and other extenuating circumstances or emergencies.
SEMYO will accept applications for tuition assistance throughout the SEMYO season.
If you would like more information about qualifying for tuition assistance before auditioning to SEMYO, please contact Corey Henke at email@example.com or call 507-218-2160.
Private Lesson Assistance
Families who demonstrate financial need may also apply for assistance with private music lessons. Students who qualify will receive a stipend of either $50 or $100 per month from September 2023 to May 2024 to be applied towards private music lessons. Students receiving a stipend for lessons must be enrolled in SEMYO for the entire year and receive weekly private lessons with a qualified instructor who specializes on the instrument that the student plays in SEMYO. SEMYO will verify lesson participation with teachers monthly. (Please note that weekly private music lessons typically cost anywhere between $100-200 per month and the stipend may not cover the entire cost).
Funds for music lesson assistance are limited and households with lower income (as well as factors such as number of children in the household and participating in SEMYO) will receive priority.
Applications for private lesson assistance are due on or before August 28, 2023.
Mike Smith Memorial Scholarship
In memory of former Board President and SEMYO supporter Mike Smith, SEMYO is offering a limited number of scholarships for returning students in the Bravura Strings and Prelude Winds ensembles. The goal of this scholarship is to invest in dedicated students participating in our entry level ensembles and prepare them for successful advancement to the Chamber Strings and Philharmonic Orchestra. The scholarship will reduce the cost of tuition to $50 per trimester and include a $75 per month stipend to go toward the cost of private music lessons. To apply, families must complete the online application and submit the front page of their 1040 Tax Form.
To be eligible students must be a returning member of SEMYO enrolled in Bravura Strings or Prelude Winds for the entire 2023-2024 season. They must also be enrolled in private music lessons between September 2023 through May 2024. Students demonstrating financial need and a record of excellent attendance at SEMYO will receive priority; however, families at all income levels are invited to apply.
Applications for the Mike Smith Memorial Scholarship are due on or before August 28, 2023.
To apply for tuition assistance, families are asked to complete an online application and submit the front page of your federal income tax form (1040). If a 1040 tax form is not available, families may also submit a verification of free or reduced lunch from your school or a document verifying unemployment. Since assistance is based on financial need, this documentation is required. There is one form for both tuition and lesson assistance and the Mike Smith Memorial Scholarship. On the application, please indicate which types of assistance for which you are applying. Families with multiple children participating in SEMYO only need to complete one form.
- Complete an online application (click here)
- E-mail the front page of your income tax (1040) or other documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also mail the form to SEMYO, Suite 450, 1001 14th ST NW, Rochester, MN 55901. Please block off your social security number before sending the form.
Timeline for applications
- Lesson scholarships and Mike Smith Scholarship: apply by August 28, awarded in September.
- Tuition assistance and instrument incentive scholarship: applications accepted on rolling basis, preferably by August 28 for participation in 1st trimester.
Instrument Incentive Scholarship Description and Application Instructions
SEMYO is also offering a limited number of instrument incentive scholarships for students in all orchestras who play instruments that are typically underrepresented in SEMYO. These includes string bass, viola, bassoon, oboe, trombone, and tuba. The Instrument Incentive Scholarship will reduce tuition by 50%. To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be enrolled in SEMYO for the entire year. If more assistance is needed than 50%, or students are not planning to enroll in all three trimesters of SEMYO, please complete the tuition assistance application instead. A recommendation from the student’s music teacher is required and applications will not be approved without the recommendation.
To apply, please:
- Complete an online application (some sections required to be completed by the student) (click here)
- Ask your music teacher to submit a brief recommendation via email to Corey Henke at email@example.com.
- Applications are due on or before August 28, awarded in September.
Applications without a music teacher recommendation will not be considered.
Expectations for Scholarship Recipients
- Pay all tuition not covered by tuition assistance at the due date (first Saturday of each trimester). Contact SEMYO if you need to pay in installments.
- Abide by SEMYO attendance and behavior requirements.
- Inform SEMYO if your financial situation changes during the year or if you need additional assistance to participate.
- Students receiving a stipend for lessons must be enrolled in SEMYO for the entire year and receive weekly private lessons with a qualified instructor who specializes on the instrument that the student plays in SEMYO.
We are grateful to our community partners who support the SEMYO Assistance and Outreach Program:
Cindy Smith (in memory of Mike Smith)
Individual donations and annual fundraiser proceeds also contribute to the SEMYO assistance program. To donate click on the link below.
Your contribution helps increase access to a high-quality music education program for families throughout Southeastern Minnesota.