SBCC Foundation to give local students free two-year tuition

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SAMMY KEYES-LEVINE, News Editor

The Santa Barbara City College Foundation presented a program to the Academic Senate on Wednesday that would cover the cost of the first two years of tuition for graduating high school seniors in Santa Barbara County.

The College Promise, which has been successfully implemented at Ventura College, Cuesta College, and CSU Long Beach, would completely cover tuition, textbooks and any other supplies instructors require students to have for their courses.

The program was met with an overwhelming amount of support from the Academic Senate.

“I almost cried when you talked about this,” Senator Elizabeth Imhof said. “Every colleague that I have spoken to is just so excited. We just want to support this and make it work.”

City College’s program would contain some notable changes as compared to the other institutions that offer free tuition to graduating seniors.  

“We are actually proposing a much bolder initiative, two full years, all books and all supplies,” said Geoff Green, chief executive officer of the foundation. “This is really the full-ride version.”

The program’s total cost for the first year would be $750,000, and in its second year, would rise to $1.5 million. Private donations from individuals and foundations would provide most of the funding, and a portion would ideally come from the community, Green said.

Currently the program is in its planning stages, but during March and April, Green hopes to be securing funding and finalizing a plan.

The senate had no objections to the program, only concerns regarding technicalities. Green addressed these by explaining they are still in the planning stages, and all concerns will be taken into consideration and hopefully included.

“I’m not looking for a reason to exclude students,” said Green. “I am looking for a reason to include them, and ideally, we would want everybody.”

Green will be working closely with financial aid programs that currently exist at the college, such as the Board of Governors Fee Waiver and federal financial aid.

“The philosophy is that we want to use what already is at the college,” Green said. “And not try to push it and change it.”