San Bernardino Valley College is making sure some high school students have one less thing to worry about by offering two years of free tuition, along with additional aid, to students participating in the new Free College Promise program.
"Starting now, we want to offer students their first two years of college for free," John Longville, president of the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees, said at a kickoff event in San Bernardino in March. "We think that gives them a heck of an advantage."
The Promise program will give 1,000 qualifying students two years of free tuition at SBVC or Crafton Hills College, free textbooks, $300 cash for college expenses, free access to a laptop for coursework, individualized advising and priority course enrollment.
Funding for the program comes from a $10 million endowment established in October by the trustees.
"Many of our students cannot afford to go to college,” San Bernardino Community College District Chancellor Bruce Baron said at the event.
Students who want to participate in the program must have a high school diploma, sign up at the program’s website at FreeCollegePromise.com, fill out a California Community College application, fill out a federal financial aid application (better known as FAFSA) or the California Dream Act, and commit to attending school full-time. The program will initially enroll 1,000 students, and be capped at that number going forward.
Students from seven San Bernardino County school districts will get priority, including Bear Valley Unified, Colton Joint Unified, Redlands Unified, Rialto Unified, Rim of the World Unified, San Bernardino City Unified and Yucaipa-Calimesa Unified.
At the end of the ceremony, Baron asked all the students attending the event to raise their right hand and make a pledge, "I promise that after high school, I will go to college. I promise that I will never give up on myself or my dreams. I promise that I will be the one who makes a difference for me, for my family and for my community."
For more information on the Free College Promise, visit freecollegepromise.com.