Passport to College students get ready to collect on promise

Molina Soun, Staff Writer

Students were only in the fifth grade when they were presented with an offer they couldn’t refuse: free tuition.  The Passport to College program, started in 2006-2007, targeted those who will graduate in 2014.  Approximately 7,000 students signed the contract, which promises two years of free tuition at Delta College.

The program guarantees students free tuition if they pass the CAHSEE and continue to live and graduate from high school in the Delta College attendance area. Students and parents are required to attend events and meetings each year.  Students who fail to graduate will not be eligible for two years of free tuition.

“The program has informed me more about college because there’s meetings every year,” senior Marlene Ramos said.

Those who signed the contract don’t have to attend Delta College.  The goal of the program is to increase the college rate in the region by making college education possible for all high school graduates. The program aims to help increase the number of college graduates and to lower high school dropout rates.

All Passport to College students should have completed their Delta College admission application and the Assessment Compass Evaluation Test.  Failure to complete the requirements could cause a student to lose eligibility.

In January, they will begin their financial aid application, in which Delta College will provide free tuition afterwards.  Delta expects to pay $2 million in tuition for those that do not qualify for any financial aid.

Regarding how many students from the program Delta College expects to enroll in 2014, Delta officials were unable to provide an answer.

Students who are part of the program say it will assist them and further their education.

“I think the program benefits you and makes you want to strive more and do better, especially if they have the motivation and determination and put effort into their education,” senior Heather Xiong said.

“I would say [it encourages students] because it sets you to go to college and it’s free,” senior Anthony Vega said.

According to information about Passport to College on Delta College’s website, “Passport to College is an instrument of change in the lives of those in our community who believe that college is beyond their economic reach and that living in poverty is their destiny.”

It’s the student’s decision to choose where they attend, but the program can be beneficial for students and parents who are struggling in this economy or who don’t get accepted to a four-year university.

The estimated cost of attendance for Delta College is over $18,000 for students who live off campus, compared to the estimated cost of attending a UC at $32,400 for students living on campus.

Students unable to pay the high cost of a four-year university can take advantage of two years of free education at Delta College.

“It will help financially,” senior Romuel Trocino said.  “After, I’ll transfer to a four-year college.”

For students who are worried regarding what college they will get accepted to, the program serves as an alternative.

“I’m not sure about attending Delta,” Vega said.  “It’s a backup plan.  I’m gonna attend a four-year college instead, if I get accepted to one.”

Despite two years of free tuition, some students are worried that overcrowding at Delta might affect their education.  Due to this reason, the program might not seem as valuable to some.

“Delta seems overcrowded,” senior Andrea Solis said.  “Instead of two years, it might take three years. It’ll take longer to finish your work and then transfer.”

The program will not extend their grant for students who fail to complete their course work within three years.