Starting this fall, high school graduates in the San Gabriel Valley will be able to attend Pasadena City College without paying tuition through a new program known as the PCC Promise.

The program is the latest in a growing number of similar programs at two-year colleges around the country designed to give every student access to a college education. As tuition in the CSU and UC systems has skyrocketed by as much as 400 percent over the past 20 years, vastly outpacing inflation, the PCC Promise intends to lower barriers to ensure that the benefits of college attendance remain available to students of all backgrounds.

“PCC has been a gateway to a better life for residents of our region for more than 90 years,” said PCC Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien. “The PCC Promise makes sure that gateway remains open for all the students we serve — today and tomorrow.”

“Our communities deserve a quality institution that delivers a clear pathway to a better life,” said Ross Selvidge, president of the board of trustees of the Pasadena Area Community College District. “Research shows that California needs to produce 1.1 million extra college graduates by 2030 in order to keep our economy growing. The PCC Promise helps us do that.”

Under the program, students who meet eligibility requirements will receive one year of their PCC education completely free of tuition fees. Any student who graduates from a high school within PCC’s district and enrolls the Fall Semester after graduation will qualify for the program.

As the college aims to establish the program in perpetuity, the Pasadena City College Foundation will be engaging community support for the PCC Promise.

“America’s community colleges serve millions of students who otherwise would not receive a college education,” said former PCC President and California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott, who leads the Foundation’s effort to engage the community. “If we lower the cost barrier for low-income families, we will drive success in our local economy, our state economy, and our national economy.”

“It’s no secret that having more members of our community with college degrees helps drive the growth of our region,” said Jim Sarni, president of the board of the Pasadena City College Foundation. “At the same time, community colleges play a vital role in advancing the careers of workers at all levels of our economy. By increasing access to PCC, the entire San Gabriel Valley wins.”

Some guidelines apply to the PCC Promise:

  • Eligible students must have earned a high school diploma from any public or private high school within the Pasadena Area Community College District.
  • Local students who enter military service immediately following high school will be eligible if they enroll at PCC the first semester after completing service.
  • Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA at PCC to remain within the program.
  • Students must enroll in at least 9 units per semester while at PCC.

The PCC Promise is a last-dollar scholarship program, which means it meets any funding need remaining after federal and state aid programs and private scholarships have been applied. The program covers students’ credit fees, comparable to tuition, which are paid on every unit for which the student registers. Funding will be provided to each individual student for one academic year.

The program will be available to students beginning in the Fall 2017 semester. Eligibility guidelines and program parameters are subject to change.

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