The Alamo Colleges District officially launched its AlamoPromise scholarship Wednesday with a celebratory ceremony and a new online registration portal.
The Promise program will provide Bexar County high school graduates from the class of 2020 with free tuition and fees to the community college system regardless of income.
Seniors attending the first cohort of 25 Bexar County high schools can “save a seat” in the program on the online portal from Oct. 2 until Feb. 14. Alamo Colleges prefers students register by Dec. 1.
“This says to those students that we believe in you as a community, so we’re super excited about today, and about the launch,” said Alamo Colleges Chancellor Mike Flores.
“We know that we have challenges with poverty, with segregation, with economic segregation, and what changes the trajectory and life of an individual and a family more than anything else is a credential.”
The 25 high schools in the first AlamoPromise cohort have a high concentration of poverty. Next year, AlamoPromise will be opened up to seniors across Bexar County who graduate from traditional public schools.
The Promise program provides free tuition to any of the five Alamo Colleges for up to three years or until the student earns a degree or certificate. To be eligible, students need to have a 2.0 GPA and a high school diploma from a participating school.
Liz Ozuna, executive director of advanced academics and postsecondary initiatives at San Antonio ISD, said the program has the potential to help the district meet its goal of 80% of its graduates going to college.
“We’re struggling, but we’re making progress. We’re at about 26% of our students going to a four-year college and about 50%, just under 50%, going to any type of college,” Ozuna said.
“AlamoPromise, for us, gives students a chance who really thought they weren’t college material typically because of finances.”
Ozuna said that many SAISD families don’t look into college because they don’t think they can afford it.
“Most students and parents list finance — financial aid — as the big stumbling block, or the big barrier,” Ozuna said.
AlamoPromise is a last-dollar scholarship, which pays for any tuition and fees not covered by state or federal grants. Several businesses, including Toyota, JP Morgan Chase, Frost Bank and Wells Fargo, have committed a combined $850,000 to support the program.
“I think we’re right on target (for raising financial support),” Flores said. “Total, all in, we have that $850,000, and then we have another $1 million that we’re going to announce, so $1.85 million, which is fantastic for us as a community.”
The city of San Antonio and Bexar County commissioners are also supporting the initiative, which is expected to cost $27 million over the next five years.