San Diego City and other local Community Colleges Promise Students with Financial Barriers Free Tuition

NEWS // August 23, 2018

San Diego City and other local Community Colleges Promise Students with Financial Barriers Free Tuition

Author: Liki Porotesano, Administrative Analyst I, County of San Diego Office of Strategy & Innovation

San Diego Community College District students have access to the most affordable, high-quality higher education in the nation, but earning a degree or certificate remains a steep financial challenge for far too many. In fact, most college students who have left college without a degree say financial reasons are a key cause.

Many local students are the first in their family to go to college. Nearly 7 in 10 District students are working to support themselves or their family while going to school, and the vast majority receive financial aid to help them pay for their tuition and registration fees. Housing, food and transportation are not the only costs that students must overcome. Approximately 1 in 4 students in the District say they have had to drop at least one class because they could not afford the required textbooks. More than 1 in 10 students say they have been forced to borrow a textbook from a friend to get by.

In response to the financial barriers many students encounter, San Diego Promise provides two years of tuition free at  San Diego City, Mesa and Miramar colleges for first-time, full-time students. Leveraging funds provided by the state of California through the California College Promise, and with support of generous donors, the San Diego Community College District is ensuring that no deserving student is denied access to quality higher education due to lack of resources.

From specialized counseling to help with creating a comprehensive educational plan, and guided educational pathways, the San Diego Community College District is committed to making sure that students participating in the San Diego Promise reach their educational goals.

Another important component of the program is that all San Diego Promise students participate in at least one transition program, which includes the First Year Experience, Student Success Day, Summer Bridge, and other cohort-based programs designed to engage students and provide support.

San Diego Promise participants also receive a variety of support services, including regular meetings with a counselor, participation in workshops, and frequent email reminders to assist them in remaining on track. Such services are playing a key role with the District having some of the highest student completion rates in the California Community Colleges system and a 45 percent increase in degrees conferred since 2014.