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No cost college now offered to hundreds of local students

Santa Barbara City College is offering incoming students from local high schools free books and tuition for two years. The Promise Program is one of the most generous of its kind in the country.

730 students are participating this semester. It’s the first group to enjoy this benefit, funded through grants and donations.

Some would have bypassed college due to cost, and others may have delayed it.

Michael Sanchez a recent graduate from Carpinteria High is starting SBCC in the spring semester He wasn’t sure he could pay for college. He said his parents never received a higher education but they strongly encouraged him.

Sanchez heard about the program from his older sister and didn’t believe it.

“I didn’t expect it to be free. I thought there was a catch to it. But as long as I am a full time student and doing the right things, I can get a college education for free,” said Sanchez. “Coming from Carpinteria High school college is huge there. That is what they are focusing on.”

Many high school graduates are shocked by college costs at all levels, even the more affordable Community Colleges.

SBCC President Anthony Beebe says “this takes the excuse of not going to college, because of finances anyway, off the table. This enables those people who wouldn’t normally go to college, (a chance) to go to college.”

He said the program at SBCC does not have an enrollment limitation.

The Promise website says the overall goal is “to remove economic barriers, making our community’s college fully accessible to all local students.”

In two years, many of the students who have just started the Promise Program will also have an automatic transfer to several universities through another program the college offers.

Visit the Promise Program online for more information.

The program already has many small and large donations coming in. Later this year there will be fundraising drive throughout the district. The goal for the first three years is $5-million. Ultimately a$40-million endowment is in the long range plan.

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