By Tiese White
Did you know that you can get your first year at College of the Canyons absolutely free if you’re a full-time student, it will include a book voucher, counseling services and much more?
“This would have been the best bribe to get me to come to school, too bad this is my last year here,” said COC student Carlee Stewart. Many of the students who are learning about this new program see all the benefits involved but hate that they didn’t know about the program while enrolling in COC.
So, to be a part of this process a student has to follow all the steps and try their best to get the application done early.
The idea of the First Year Promise program or FYP, is to give qualified incoming students the opportunity to attend College of the Canyons with zero tuition and fee free for their first fall and spring semesters.
“The program is exclusively for the first time, full-time enrolled freshman who have applied to and to and been accepted into the First-Year Promise Program,” stated on the flyer.
“First Year Promise program will save a student and his or her family more than $1,500 for the year,” stated on the flyer.
“I think this new offer is great and will really help and promote new coming students to come to school. I also believe that this can be the kick start to people who are undecided about coming to school for many things but mainly because of money, since it is free,” said COC student Lindsey Stevens.
The benefits are countless and gives incoming freshman students the advantage to the start of an early education.
“College of the Canyons is starting its First Year Promise program in Fall 2017. Students who wanted to participate had to fill out an application by May 15. We are sending notifications of acceptance to the program this week. The program is based on our successful First Year Experience program that we ran for a number of year,” said Denee Pescarmona Instructional Support and Student Success advisor at College of the Canyons.
“College of the Canyons was one of fourteen California Community Colleges that received a California College Promise Innovation Grant. Over sixty colleges applied for the grant. The grant amount is $750,000 over the next two years and that grant will help cover the costs of fees and books for 300 to 350 students in the program. We would not have been able to implement such a robust program if we had not received the grant,” said Pescarmona.
With only a max of 350 students capable of the covered costs it would have been best to get all information in early.
The idea is to help push further education onto students, in hoping that it will encourage them to graduate and go on to a four year. College of the Canyons took action by applying for grants to help raise money for the students, because they believe in their future. With a years’ time to save up for a second year at COC, they can apply for grants and scholarships and possibly be covered for another year that way.
“We received almost 500 applications to the program. We distribute several press releases and our Office of Outreach and High School Relations hosted dozens of workshops for the past several weeks at local area high schools to promote the program,” said Pescarmona.
“I applied because my older brother is a student at COC and he brought the flyer home to my mom and a few days later we went up to the school and applied right then and there, I will be going for a year for free and hopefully already have my second year ready to be paid for,” said William Gomez, Canyons High School student.
The tactic for College of the Canyons was to market this new program to high school students by having fairs, workshops and posting flyers around local and LA district schools; because students that are a neighboring high school, such as Chatsworth High School, are also able to apply.
“I would have applied for this program if it was offered the first semester I came. I also think it is great that College of the Canyons wants to make education easier for people because it is getting so hard to be in school now. There is a possible chance that education funding will be cut by millions in the future, so it is always best to take what you can get now,” says Annie Bahena, College of the Canyons Student.
First Year Promise also sets up students to get on track with FAFSA, which is a government funding program to determine how much financial aid a student may receive, by getting the opportunity to fill out the application sooner because it is a part of the First Year Promise program.
Since this program is being funded by another attribute for 350 students, it is great to look into seeing how much financial aid you can receive elsewhere, whether it be from a BOG waiver, loans, scholarships, etc , if you didn’t qualify for First Year Promise. This is a part of having a plan b.
This plan also makes future education planning, easier for low income families, so it won’t be such a burden and strain of money to worry about. School can be one of the most expensive times of your life and that’s why programs such as First Year Promise open doors for saving money.
“Being a Mexican American is becoming harder and harder in this country that sometimes my family gets worried for mines and my siblings future so my parents were happy to see an opportunity for me and that I actually qualify for something,” said William Gomez, a Canyons High School student.
The requirements for First Year Promise are so important to follow because if you were to miss any of these steps, even if it were just one, you may lose all of your benefits and won’t be eligible for the program anymore. They are basic requirements such as enrolling in Counseling 150 for the summer of 2017, enroll in fall 2017 designated FYP courses like English and math, also maintain 12 units for fall and spring semesters.
Keeping your GPA up to a 2.25 is one of the most important requirements alongside participating in all program elements, such as supplemental instructions with faculty and mentoring.
The benefits are extremely rewarding with a $100 bookstore gift card and a parking permit for each semester.
“My brother’s books were so expensive and he actually wasn’t able to buy books at time because of the cost of them, so I’m happy I get a gift card it will help me save money,” said Canyons High School student, William Gomez.
Depending on how well the program countinues to grow will determine if this program will happen each year.
“The program is primarily funded from the California College Promise Innovation Grant. Additionally, the COC Foundation will be fundraising to help support and continue the program after the grant runs out. The California State Senate and Assembly are also considering ways to implement funding to help support College Promise program across the state, said Pescarmona.
Since deadline has already passed and qualified students were picked, it’s too late to apply for the program, but if it is a success College of the Canyons will promote it again to incoming freshman next year.