An analysis of the San Diego Promise – the free community college pilot program rolled out this fall in the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) – finds that the first 186 participants come from diverse backgrounds and bring significant financial need.
Nine of 10 San Diego Promise students are from underrepresented communities, including 61 percent who are Hispanic and 12 percent who are Asian/Pacific Islander. About half of the students come from families with a household income of less than $40,000 annually, and 15 percent of Promise students come from families making less than $10,000 each year, according to the district’s analysis.
Nearly 70 percent of San Diego Promise students say they intend to secure an associate degree and transfer to a four-year college or university. An additional 5 percent say they aim to transfer without first attaining an associate degree.
Margarita Novelo is among them. Novelo was without skills, without a job and without hope when she enrolled at San Diego Continuing Education, which is where she heard about the San Diego Promise.
“Applying for the Promise scholarship was the best decision I ever made in my whole life,” said Novelo, who is now studying computer science at San Diego Mesa College. “Not only had it felt like I won the lottery, it felt like I had a new purpose in life.”
Dillon McIntire shares those feelings. He enrolled at San Diego Miramar College for its fire protection technology program as he pursues his dream of becoming a firefighter.
“This financial support is everything to me right now,” McIntire said. “Both my parents recently lost their jobs right before I signed up for Miramar, so to be able to get financial aid and still be able to pursue the career path that I want is so much to me.”
In fact, the total unmet financial need of San Diego Promise students comes to $1.5 million or about $10,000 for each student with unmet need.
The San Diego Promise, adopted by the SDCCD’s board of trustees in February, includes qualifying students at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges during the 2016-17 academic year. Students who receive some state or federal financial aid will have the balance of the cost of their enrollment fees paid, ensuring free access. Students who do not receive state or federal financial aid will have their enrollment fees paid outright. Additionally, students will receive up to $1,000 in grants for textbooks and related instructional supplies.
Get more details about the San Diego Promise—read the full Community College Daily article.
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