Community College’s making a ‘Promise’

Brenna Enos, [email protected]

What if more students throughout California had the opportunity to receive free community college tuition? With the re-branding of the Board of Governors Fee Waiver program, this is a new possibility.

The California Community College District published a press release Tuesday, Sept. 19 entailing a new name for the fee waiver program as “College Promise.” While the name is new, this grant is nothing of nuance — it has been in place for over 30 years. But with a new name and the CCCD’s plan to broaden the marketing of it, many more students can have access to it in the future.

“California has long been a leader in college opportunity,” said Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley in the CCCD press release. “By rebranding our fee waiver program as the College Promise, we are aligning our historical commitment to affordability with the successful Promise partnership model to send the message that college is within reach to young Californians who otherwise may not see higher education as an option.”

This program currently covers an estimated 1 million students with free tuition across California, which is almost half of the 2.1 million community college students. As more students find out about this grant and meet the qualifications for it, the number of students covered could potentially rise.

Not only does this grant cover 1 million students, but it is also a “first dollar plan,” meaning that it pays for student tuition before anything else. This is really beneficial to students because this grant covers for tuition, which is typically the most expensive aspect, and any other financial aid obtained can cover the cost of textbooks and other expenses.

This “first dollar plan” is not nationwide however, as many other states give grant money after other types of aid cover the costs and therefore, the students do not receive as much money.

“California’s commitment to affordability focuses our resources on those students with the most financial need,” said Board of Governors President Cecilia V. Estolano in the press release. “This progressive approach to financial aid ensures that all California students, not just those from higher-income families, have the opportunity to attend and succeed in community college.”

This re-branding and expansion has proven itself to already become a more effective program. Some students at Los Medanos College did not know about the Board of Governors Fee Waiver program (BOG) and when told about the benefits of the program, they were eager to look into it.

“I never heard of the BOG free tuition program, but I think changing their name to ‘College Promise’ is a smart more if they want their program to be more accessible,” explained LMC student Jimmy Darling. “I would definitely apply for free money if it’s available and credible.”