May 25, 2018
The governing boards of two East County high school and college districts are making a promise to high school seniors: commit to your college success, and you will receive a free year of tuition at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.
At the fourth annual joint meeting of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and the Grossmont Union High School District boards, the new Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise was unveiled.
The Promise will begin in fall 2018 for first-time college students who are attending full time. It is being funded as the result of state legislation enacted last fall.
To receive the Promise, students must:
In 2016-17, almost 25 percent of the approximately 5,900 graduates from the 12 Grossmont Union High School District schools attended Grossmont or Cuyamaca College.
“With the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise, many more students will have the opportunity to pursue their dream of getting a higher education,” said Cindy Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “We are excited about transforming the lives of students and their families, and creating a better-educated workforce for East County.”
California residents attending Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges pay $46 per credit unit, giving the Promise a value of at least $1,100 for students who receive it. The college district is fundraising to help students with other expenses not covered by the Promise, including books or a second year at the colleges.
Although the board meeting focused on Grossmont Union High School District students, the Promise is available to any first-time college student in the region. Students who have taken college classes while still in high school are considered first-time students.
The Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise is a product of the East County Education Alliance, the partnership between the college and high school districts that was created in 2014. The goals of the Alliance are to inspire students to focus on college and careers; provide a seamless transition for students from high school to college; and improve college completion rates and prepare students for the evolving workforce.
The Alliance efforts got a boost in 2017, when the college district was awarded a $1.5 million California College Promise Innovation Grant. The money is being used to fund outreach and college preparation programs, including campus visits, college preparation programs, and workshops to help high schoolers and their parents fill out the FAFSA application.
Two graduates of Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have been hired through the grant to serve as college liaisons, visiting the 12 Grossmont Union High School District schools to spread the word about the Pledge and the advantages of attending the East County colleges.
“We are dispelling the myths of community college being a second-tier education, because it is not,” said Zack Gianino, who went on to get a degree in political science from the University of California, San Diego after graduating from Grossmont College.
Nancy Romero, a Cuyamaca College graduate who is about to earn her degree from San Diego State University, said she was a first-generation college student who knows the challenges of succeeding in higher education.
“It has truly been a rewarding experience to connect with students and share my story with them,” she said.
Grossmont Union High School District Superintendent Tim Glover said the Alliance and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise will open the doors to higher education for more East County students.
“The energy and focus of the Alliance is inspirational,” Glover said. “Our vision is to fulfill the promise within each and every East County student.”