SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - All three schools in the San Diego Community College District will offer free tuition to first-time, full-time graduates of any high school in San Diego County.
The Promise San Diego scholarship will pay for up to 3,500 students starting in the fall of 2018. That's a huge expansion of the program's initial offering, which gave tuition to 186 students as part of a pilot program in 2016.
"The real power of the Promise program is that it tells every student who's in junior high or high school that they can go to college and the finances are not going to be a challenge for them," says Jack Beresford, a District Spokesman.
District Chancellor Constance Carroll, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten will announce the expansion at a news conference Monday morning.
The program pairs with the recently passed State Assembly Bill 19. That pays for one year of community college for all California students. The Promise San Diego program funds the second year.
To offset the costs, the District will hold a fundraising gala this September, featuring actress Annette Benning, a Mesa College alum. They plan to raise $1.3 million over the next two years.
Students who went through the Promise program in the first two years say it has already changed their lives.
"It means not having to decide whether I'm going to eat today or pay this book off," says Maia Wakefield, who graduated from Mesa College last spring and plans to transfer to San Francisco State.
"It was just a big burden lifted off of me which allowed me to really thrive at Mesa College."
To be eligible, students must have graduated from a San Diego-area high school and maintain a 2.0 GPA.
Students can apply for the scholarship at the SDCCD website. The deadline to apply for the Fall 2018 semester is August 2nd.