College promise secures seat in LACCD for high school grads

LAUSD Graduates may be eligible for tuition-free classes from the LACCD system in 2017.

by Vicente Vitela and Jamie Garcia, Special to the Star

Los Angeles College Promise will provide incoming college students with one year of free college tuition starting in the fall of 2017 to promote college enrollment.

The program is hoping to encourage high school students to enroll in college before and after graduation. A promise was made to seniors who will be guaranteed a free seat at the community college.

To qualify for the program, students must have graduated from a Los Angles Unified School District school and have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA). Once entered into the program, students must attend college full time and maintain a 2.0 GPA to receive the aid. For students planning on taking college courses in high school, dual enrollment will also be free.

Today, many students are discouraged in furthering their education after high school due to tuition costs and the rising cost of textbooks. This plan attempts to erase those barriers.

Los Angeles Community College District and Los Angeles Unified School District officials recently met with Mayor Eric Garcetti to discuss the details of the program. In addition to the free tuition, there is talk about paying for books and transportation.

Although there are other programs that offer similar benefits in Long Beach, this plan is unique considering that it will reach out to more than 900 LAUSD schools. The largest school district in the state is working with the biggest community college district in the state to provide students with opportunities, with help from the College and Career Access Pathways Act which allows California community college districts to enter into formal partnership agreements with local school districts to expand enrollment opportunities for high school students.

“The main goal of this program is we want Los Angeles to be known as a city of graduates,” said Erika Endrijonas, President of Valley College.

Garcetti said the mayor’s office will pay $1.75 million of the $3 million program. The money comes from private funding that includes such names as The Los Angeles Dodgers, the Karsh family, and the Broad Foundation, while the LACCD will pay for the rest of the cost.

“We’re preparing by having a number of backup classes on standby,” Endrijonas said. She added that the program will not cause any issues for current students.

When asked how this program will impact the graduation rates of high schools, John F Kennedy High School student Jose Olivas said “The graduation rates will be higher because it gives them a chance to start their career.”

On the other hand, there are some high school students that are a bit less optimistic about the program and how the students will turn out.

“Some kids will take the program for granted and lack on their studies,” said Andrew Olivas of John F Kennedy High School.

A big question upcoming students want to know is if they have priority registration.

“As of right now the plan is for the students to gain priority registration and be amongst the second wave of registration openings,” Endrijonas said when asked where the LA College Promise students will fall under the registration banner.

For many LAUSD school graduates the question being asked is why this program is being offered now and not in years past.  Endrijonas said “I believe that this program is able to exist due to it being proven to be effective as well as all the national attention it has brought.”

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