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Promise Program Extends Participation, Number Of Free College Credits

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Columbia, CA – More students will be able to attend Columbia College classes at no charge thanks to a notable expansion of a program.

Columbia College Foundation officials say that more funding has become available for the Columbia College Promise that will enable it to cover more students in other areas of the Mother Lode and pick up the tuition tab for two full years of consecutive semesters.

Launched last fall, the Promise made it possible for public high school graduates to attend the college tuition-free for only their first two consecutive semesters. There were two caveats: the students had to enroll immediately after graduation and live within the Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) boundaries.

That meant the program was available to graduates from either Sonora Union High School District, Summerville Union High School District, Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District, Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Alternative Education or Bret Harte High School. According to the college, 185 high school graduates took advantage of the Promise program in its fledgling year; 214 in 2019. The numbers include more than 45 percent of Sonora High graduates and 50 percent of those at Summerville and Tioga high schools.

Officials now indicate that beginning in the fall of 2020, the Promise program’s service area will expand to cover all high school graduates throughout the college service area, which includes the rest of Calaveras County as well as Mariposa County, Oakdale, and Waterford. They will still be required to enroll at Columbia College immediately after graduation.

Tapping More State Funding, Still Counting On Local Dollars

Foundation President Colette Such explains the funding was made possible through the state’s Promise program. “We’re incredibly grateful to our private donors who helped us launch and sustain the Columbia College Promise — and to the college for continuing to invest this new state funding in this exceptionally successful program. “

Columbia College President Santanu Bandyopadhyay adds the college is grateful for the financial support of private donors who made it possible for the program to launch, noting that local donor contributions remain essential to keep the program going as funding from state and other sources are subject to change. “We are pleased that the college can support program expansion…confident that the Promise program will contribute greatly to the college’s goal of building an educated workforce. When the community and the college work together, great things happen,” he shares.

In addition to helping remove the tuition barrier that often stops high school graduates from pursuing their education, the Promise program assists in connecting them to support services that can help ensure success.

By increasing the number of local high school graduates who attend Columbia College, Promise supporters hope to boost the population of workforce-ready young adults who complete a degree, certificate or training program or successfully transition to a four-year college.

Officials say more details about the Promise expansion will be posted on the Columbia College website and through its social media channels. It will additionally be available to families through students’ school counselors.