North Orange Promise Creates Tuition-Free College Experience for First Time Students

There’s an exciting new buzz at Fullerton College. Beginning in fall 2019, first-time college students who enroll at Fullerton College will receive a tuition-free college experience under the expansion of the North Orange Promise Program.

The North Orange Promise Program is an extension of the Anaheim Pledge which launched in fall 2018 and has since served more than 800 graduates from Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) during the 2018-19 academic year and the Fullerton Educational Partnership, which was developed the same year. The success of those pilot programs created the demand and a model for North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD) to expand the number of incoming eligible students in 2019 offering the opportunity to any new first-time student.

“We are so delighted to be able to offer a tuition-free year of college to all first-time students who qualify,” said NOCCCD Chancellor Cheryl Marshall. “With the hard work of our staff and faculty, any student without prior college experience has the opportunity to collect this support. That means potential students from any high school, any age, and any income bracket will be able to participate in the North Orange Promise Program.”

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

“With the expansion of the North Orange Promise, Fullerton College is thrilled to be part of this exciting collaboration that will help our students and community thrive for years to come,” said President Greg Schulz.

At Fullerton College, the expanded Promise Program has already hit the ground running, offering information sessions for seniors and parents at Fullerton Joint Union High School District schools during the spring and hosting Pledge Night on May 2 for AUHSD seniors and families where nearly 1,250 people attended to learn about the program and pledge their commitment to education.

“The success of the Pledge program can be seen through the stories of our first cohort of Anaheim Pledge students,” said Deniz Fierro, special project director of the Anaheim Pledge and Promise programs at Fullerton College. “Students who participated in the Pledge this year received student-centered outreach and guided entry support as they transitioned from high school to full-time Fullerton College students. In addition, Pledge students received intentional counseling and mentoring to ensure they have a successful first year as Hornets.”

Throughout the pilot year the program has increased AUHSD full-time student enrollment and persistence from fall to spring.

“Pledge and EOPS have been such a great help,” said Pledge Student Evelyn Darlene Penilla. “With everything from books to counseling – when I need help or have questions, they have answered them or pointed me in the right direction to make sure my question is answered before I leave campus.”

Penilla is a graduate of Anaheim High School, the eldest of three siblings and a first-generation college student. Her parents are from Guadalajara, Mexico and recently moved the family out to Corona, CA after raising Penilla in Anaheim. She states her commute to Fullerton College since leaving Anaheim has been the most challenging – she’s at school from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but the support of the Pledge Program has helped ease some of that stress.

The same is true for Ricky Roman who said the Pledge Program has opened up opportunities to help him grow and continue work toward his goal of attending Cal State Fullerton to study business and supply chain management.

“I had the chance to attend Cal State Fullerton right out of high school, but with the perks Fullerton College offered through the Pledge Program, it was an easy decision to make,” Roman said. “The various programs offered here allow me to better myself in a college environment while also giving me strong financial backing.”

Under the program, entering students who meet eligibility requirements will receive one year of their education completely free of tuition and health fees. Students must be:

  • First-time college students
  • High school graduates or accepted equivalency
  • A California resident, AB540 or DREAM approved applicant

Once accepted into the North Orange Promise Program, students (at minimum) must:

  • Enroll full-time for at least 12 units in fall and spring semesters
  • Complete a current financial aid (FAFSA/CADAA) application
  • Develop a Student Education Plan with the help of the college counseling team
  • Earn a minimum 2.0 grade point average in the fall semester to maintain status for the spring

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Author: Jazmin

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