In 2011, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York unveiled a historic educational initiative called "the FASNY Higher Education Learning Plan." This first-ever, statewide community college tuition reimbursement program is geared towards recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters throughout New York. Due to a variety of factors, many volunteer fire departments are experiencing a need to recruit and retain more members. FASNY believes that tuition reimbursement can be an effective incentive for people to volunteer in their local community. Nearly 200 students across the Empire State had applied to participate in the program for the fall 2012. The deadline to apply for tuition reimbursement for the spring semester has been extended to Friday, Feb. 15.