Ds Scholarship

A Community College Promise for Texas High Schoolers / Public News Service

High school students who attend college expand their future career options, and a free tuition program at five San Antonio community colleges is making a difference for hundreds of students.

Known as “AlamoPROMISE,” five community colleges selected 25 city high schools for the program where a majority of students haven’t gone on to postsecondary education. In addition, more than half are economically disadvantaged.

Alamo Colleges District AlamoPROMISE Chief Program Officer Stephanie Vasquez said the “last-dollar” scholarship pays whatever costs remain after financial aid.

“That means students from participating high schools,” said Vasquez, “when they graduate can attend one of the Alamo colleges and earn an academic certificate or associates degree and incur no charge for their tuition and fees.”

There are an estimated 400 “promise” programs nationwide, including 10 in Texas.

Vasquez said institutions participating in the Alamo Colleges District also provide a wide array of services to students – from low-cost health care to food pantries and day-care programs at a significantly reduced rate.

In order to foster a college-going culture in San Antonio, Vasquez said the Promise program covers students for up to three years so they have time to complete their credentials.

“With Alamo Promise, it means they don’t have to ask their mom or dad or grandparents for money,” said Vasquez. “They can come to classes knowing that’s one less burden on their families, knowing that it’s going to lead them to a stronger future.”

She noted the program aims to drive more first-generation and lower-income students to higher education.

“Many of our students fall into that scenario where they are the first ones to attend college,” said Vasquez, “and they possibly wouldn’t have done so otherwise.”

By last fall, overall enrollment had declined 5.5% percent at the five participating Alamo colleges, but enrollment from the 25 high schools in the Promise program climbed 17%.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

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