Local graduates go to SBCC tuition-free with new program

Alexis Smith, Staff Writer

City College is excited to announce its first tuition-free program for local high school graduates.

The SBCC Promise was introduced this fall semester for students in 2015-2016 graduating classes from high schools spanning from the Gaviota to Carpinteria area. Geoff Green, SBCC Foundation executive officer, said the ultimate goal of the program is to assist local students in going to college without financial barriers.

Eligible students are granted two free years of tuition, supplies and textbooks.

Since many students are working to pay for college, the foundation encourages students to enroll full-time through the promise. Doing so would take off tuition and fees allowing students to get through school faster and have a better chance at focusing on classes.

The promise encourages its students to enroll full-time through granting free tuition, so they can gravitate their attention to school, rather than work.

Green pitched the program in November, 2015, but the name “college promise” has been around for a decade.

To fund the program, the foundation said it would rather raise the money privately instead of waiting for public dollars to get reinvested. Green believes doing so will make a substantial difference, rather than the students who are being offered just one year of free tuition.

The goal of the promise is not to police family income or students’ high school GPA. The program is offered to students who are interested instead, so it doesn’t create a competitive system. Green says he doesn’t believe in that sort of process because the foundation would be losing more money being restrictive as opposed to awarding those that are eligible.

“Even if I didn’t have the promise I still would have came here because of other resources the school has to offer, like EOPS. But the Promise affected me because I used to be homeless and stay up all night then go to school,” said Johnny Jara, a Santa Barbara High School graduate. “Instead of usually paying for classes, I was able to put money towards a house.”

About 50 percent of local graduates enrolled in City College classes before the program, said Green. Estimates reveal there will be 750 to 800 new students taking advantage of the new program.

The main reason the promise does not require students to have a certain GPA is they want to help individuals who are struggling the most. Setting a high academic bar may deter students who could benefit from what the program has to offer.

“I still would have came to the city college but the promise helped me because I thought I was going to take my first year off to help my parents. I have a sister that goes here and books are really expensive for the both of us,” said Leslie Marin, a recent Santa Barbara High School graduate.

Green said that he is pleased with results of the promise’s launch, but will not be able to determine its total success for years to come.


Correction: Sept. 15, 2016

An earlier version of this story misspelled Johnny Jara’s last name. His last name is Jara, not Lara. The Channels regrets this error.