Move over Bernie Sanders, community college just became free at San Marcos for local students.
Sanders is known for his proposal to bring free tuition to public colleges, and today, Wednesday, June 21 Palomar College became just that — free — for all eligible graduating San Marcos Unified School District students.
The Palomar Community College District Governing Board approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Palomar College, The Palomar College Foundation, San Marcos Unified School District and The San Marcos Promise to create The Palomar Promise.
The Palomar Promise will provide all eligible SMUSD graduating high school students with free tuition for up to two years while pursuing an associate’s degree. It also waives tuition for certificate programs and satisfying transfer requirements, officials announced.
It’s based on President Barrack Obama’s “America’s College Promise” proposal that calls for two free years of community college for all students. That plan has gone no further than the talking stages, however, and in the case of San Marcos, is now about to be implemented.
“Palomar College has been serving this region for over 70 years and our partnering with San Marcos Unified to provide a free community college education to eligible students sends a strong message to local families that we are united in supporting our community,” said Adrian Gonzales, Palomar College Interim Superintendent/President. “We could not be happier to be in a position to offer the financial support that will make a difference for many students and their families
Starting in the fall of 2017, upon successful completion of Palomar Promise eligibility requirements, students will receive tuition assistance up to $600/semester or $1,200/year for up to two consecutive years from The San Marcos Promise and Palomar College Foundation. This unique opportunity will allow students to attend college, tuition-free, full-time.
Said Dr. Kevin Holt, San Marcos Unified School District Superintendent said “San Marcos Unified, in partnership with The San Marcos Promise, is proud to announce its ‘promise’ with Palomar Community College. This is a historic partnership, considering SMUSD will be the first district in North County to establish admission to Palomar College with a guaranteed scholarship provided by The San Marcos Promise and the Palomar College Foundation. We are so grateful to Palomar College for providing this opportunity for SMUSD graduates.”
Program eligibility requirements include that students graduate from SMUSD with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA and place into transferable Math, English and Reading, as indicated by Palomar placement test results. In addition, students will be required to complete the Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA) by the federal deadlines for each school year. Students will be required to complete the Palomar College Foundation Scholarship Application prior to the deadline each year, to maintain eligibility.
“The Palomar Promise is the right thing to do. It’s right for our kids, for business, and for our community. Having affordable pathways to college and career in the comfort of your city makes San Marcos a special place to live,” said Herbie Smith, Executive Director of The San Marcos Promise Foundation.
Palomar College Foundation Executive Director Richard Talmo said, “We are excited to work with San Marcos Unified as our first Palomar Promise partner. It is fitting that we begin the first of many Promises for Palomar collaborating with a K-12 district here in San Marcos where our main campus is located.”
The Palomar College Foundation will continue to establish community partnerships and to solicit financial assistance from businesses and individuals to ensure that the Palomar Promise continues to grow throughout the District.