PLATTSBURGH The administration at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh wants the communitys help to ensure an education for all prospective students. SUNY Plattsburgh officially kicked off the public appeal phase for Bright with Promise, a $15 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, during a ceremony at Angell College Center Oct. 17. The campaign, explained university president John C. Ettling, will benefit students by collecting money for scholarship assistance. In addition to endowments, the campaign will also impact student and faculty initiatives through the universitys Plattsburgh Fund, which will enhance campus technology and improve equipment. Though the public appeal phase was launched during the ceremony, the overall campaign has been operating since July 2004, explained Ettling, with a targeted deadline to reach its goal by June 30, 2011. As of the ceremony, the university has raised $9.4 million approximately 63 percent of its goal. We need to sustain the momentum we have developed in the first four years, stressed Ettling. We know that we are facing difficult economic challenges, not just in the state of New York, but across the country and around the world as well. But, this is exactly why we need to see increased philanthropic support for our students. They need help now; now is when they are here, he added. According to Ettling, approximately 80 percent of students enrolled at SUNY Plattsburgh receive some form of financial aid for their tuition expenses. The average debt load students carry with them once they obtain their degrees is far greater than it has been in the recent past, he added. Theyre taking out loans, theyre working more and turning to their parents for help, said Ettling. With the universitys enrollment up 34 percent from five years ago, the president said that will statistically mean more students will be pursuing higher education with a larger financial burden. Even though SUNY Plattsburgh was ranked among the top schools in the 2009 edition of Americas Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, its helping students be able to afford that valuable education thats even more important, Ettling said. Campaign co-chair Celine R. Paquette, former owner of Paquette Insurance Agency in Champlain and former Clinton County legislator, agreed with Ettling about the value of a SUNY Plattsburgh education. Paquette was among the alumni who encouraged others to donate toward the universitys campaign, crediting the university for guiding her on her path nearly 50 years ago. This college gave me an outstanding academic foundation that helped launch my career, or I should say careers, said Paquette. I can honestly say my successes all started here. The Bright with Promise campaign has received donations from 12,714 donors to date, 3,598 of which being first-time donors. For more information about the campaign, contact Brendan C. Kinney, associate vice president of the colleges Office of Institutional Advancement, 564-2090.