With a $ 2 million grant, a total of 2,500 San Mateo County students could attend community college for free in the coming year.
San Mateo County’s Board of Supervisors President David Canepa announced Monday the $ 2 million grant to expand the Promise Scholars program and add an additional 500 new students.
“This is just the first step … what I would like to see is the future, every community college student in San Mateo County has the opportunity to have a free community college through the Promise Scholars,” said Canepa.
The Promise Scholars Program offers up to three years of scholarships and comprehensive support services for first-time full-time community college students. It also offers fee waivers, school book credit, and monthly transportation incentives.
Part of the support includes designated counselors who meet with students monthly to make sure they are on the right track and to answer any questions students may have about the classes they need to take and how to Transfer process.
Mario Guzman, a participant in the program, applied before the gang violence in El Salvador a few years after arriving in California.
“Right after high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or what I had to do … And it was kind of overwhelming for me because I knew I wanted to go to college but I didn’t know if I could would be to attend a four year facility, ”Guzman said.
The program enabled Guzman to attend Skyline College and is preparing for graduation this spring. He has already been admitted to San Francisco State University and is awaiting feedback from California State University in Long Beach.
Previously, the program was able to fund a free education for 2,000 students, which was expanded to 2,500 students as a result of that district funding, said Richard Rojo, spokesman for the San Mateo Community College District.
“Our goal is to get as many students as possible into the program,” said Rojo.
State Senator Josh Becker welcomed the expansion of the program on Monday, adding that “Investments like this concern improving equity and access to critical education and training opportunities that are not available to all students with insufficient resources.”
Becker introduced Senate Bill 659, which allows community college districts to flexibly waive or reduce tuition fees, such as enrollment fees, by using existing local funds approved by the respective community college district councils.
“Together, my bill and this investment will expand the free college for up to 6,000 students in the San Mateo Community College District by the 2022-23 school year,” Becker said.
The students are selected as part of the cohort as part of an application process. Applicants must be California residents, but the county money will be used specifically for applicants who are based in San Mateo County, Canepa said.
Students must apply to Cañada College, College of San Mateo, or Skyline College and complete the free study grant application or the California Dream Act application.
The program offers priority access to a number of different groups, including veterans, undocumented students, former incarcerated students, and teenagers who were previously part of nursing homes.
The program is in many ways similar to San Francisco’s “Free City” program, after which Canepa attempted to emulate the program.
“For us, just like for a county … it’s about our values,” Canepa said. “This is about making sure that students are mobile upstairs.”
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