More students eligible for financial aid after 35% drop in Promise plan

City+College+has+seen+a+35%25+drop+in+enrollment+in+the+Promise+program+because+of+decreased+enrollment+due+to+the+pandemic.+To+help+counteract+the+drop+in+enrollment+the+college+has+opened+up+the+Promise+Program+to+any+student+that+dropped+out+in+the+last+year+and+wasn%27t+able+to+take+advantage+of+the+full+two+years+allotted.+File+photo+from+Jan.+26%2C+2021%2C+of+the+study+area+in+the+Earth+and+Biological+Science+building+at+City+College+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.

Desiree Erdmann

City College has seen a 35% drop in enrollment in the Promise program because of decreased enrollment due to the pandemic. To help counteract the drop in enrollment the college has opened up the Promise Program to any student that dropped out in the last year and wasn’t able to take advantage of the full two years allotted. File photo from Jan. 26, 2021, of the study area in the Earth and Biological Science building at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Leah Dautoff, Staff Writer

City College’s Promise program experienced a 35% drop in enrollment in the spring semester of 2021 due to the pandemic’s effect on decreased college enrollment. 

In order to be eligible for the Promise program, students are required to enroll full time within a year of having completed their high school or equivalent program and participate in one academic counseling session a semester. 

“The basic parameters of the Promise program aren’t going to be changing in the immediate future,” said Geoff Green, CEO of the SBCC Foundation.

However, to help combat the issue of lower enrollment, the Promise program will be open to any student who met these requirements and left within the past year during the pandemic in the fall of 2021, Green said.

The Promise program was established to support eligible students in City College by covering tuition and mandatory fees, along with books and course materials for two years. 

“The main concern is to eliminate barriers to higher education for deserving students,” said Anna Everett, a Board of Trustees member.

Everett said she is particularly passionate about this program because it reminds her of her own college experience when applying for the Upward Bound program. As a first-generation college student, she benefited immensely from the program.

“I really appreciate what the Promise does because I know what a benefit it was for me,” Everett said. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused an economic shutdown in Spring 2020, the SBCC Foundation pushed an emergency grant program for about $1.2 million to keep students enrolled. 

“In Spring 2020, despite the disruption of the pandemic, a vast majority of students remained enrolled and completed the spring semester,” Green said.

This year has been a different story, with a 10% drop in Promise student enrollment in the fall and around three times that amount in the spring. 

After experiencing an entire semester of remote learning, a significant number of students chose to defer because this learning environment wasn’t viable, Green said.

The drop in Promise enrollment doesn’t necessarily mean all these students dropped out of college. Many students chose to lessen their workload and attend college part time, Green said.  

“We know that for a number of students, being enrolled full time will never be practical,” Green said. “Looking into the future, the next step for us would be to open up the Promise to some part-time arrangements.”