Free Community College Tuition Offered to All San Diego High School Graduates

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Chancellor Constance Carroll announcing the expansion of the the Promise Program at the San Diego Community College District. Photo by Chris Jennewein

All San Diego high school graduates who are first-time college students can receive free community college tuition under an expansion of the San Diego Promise Program announced Monday.

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“We’re announcing the ultimate expansion of our program,” said Constance Carroll, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. “A college education is key to economic advancement.”

The district estimates that as many as 3,500 students may be eligible for the program in the 2018-2019 academic year. To qualify, a student must be a recent California high school graduate, a first-time college student, study full time, and maintain a 2.0 grade average.

Carroll was joined by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten at Mesa College to announced the expansion.

“The expansion of this program is incredibly important to us in San Diego,” said Faulconer. “It’s all about opportunity.”

He described the program as an “investment in San Diego’s competitive workforce” and “a model that’s working” based on the success of a pilot program begun in 2016 with 186 students.

The first students in the program have maintained higher academic averages than other students in the district. In fact, nearly 20 percent of Promise Program students had 4.0 averages.

“Thousands of seniors are graduating this week from high schools in the San Diego Unified School District, and historically one-third will go on to enroll at City, Mesa or Miramar colleges,” said Marten. “All of these students who enroll full time will be eligible for two, tuition-free years.”

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The expanded program will cost an additional $1.86 million over the next academic year. Funding will come from Assembly Bill 19 and fundraising by the community college district. There is a gala fundraiser scheduled for Sept. 20 with Mesa College graduate Annette Bening as the headliner.

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