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Hundreds of new Hancock College students receiving free year of education

Hundreds of incoming Allan Hancock College freshman are now a big part of school history this year.

More than 1,000 recent graduates of Northern Santa Barbara County high schools are the first to take advantage of the brand new Hancock Promise.

Announced last year, the program provides free tuition and fees for local grads like Kaili Villanueva.

“I’m really excited,” said the Righetti graduate. “I’m excited to learn more in a new environment. It’s a little bit scary because I haven’t been around this campus, but I’m excited for a new experience and getting to better my education.”

As of Tuesday, Hancock reported fall enrollment for first-time area high school graduates totaled nearly 1,400.

The number represents a 61 percent increase from the 2017 fall semester.

In addition, the number of first-year Hancock students using the Promise is a whopping 91 percent.

Allan Hancock College President and Superintendent Kevin Walthers points out the Hancock Promise is opening opportunities for many students and their families that might otherwise not exist.

“The whole intent was to get these kids and their parents who may not understand that their kids can go to college,” said Hancock College President and Superintendent Kevin Walthers. “It’s not that the parents don’t want their kids to go, it’s just they don’t know if they can. We’ve taken out all the bureaucratic speak for theses parents and said, if you get your kids out of high school, they can come to Hancock and we’ll cover their first year. It’s been a powerful message and we’re seeing in reflect in our numbers already.”

Raised by a single-mother, Villanueva said having the new program in place has provided a huge financial relief to her family.

“If the Promise wasn’t here, I would probably have had to apply for a million more scholarships and I currently don’t have a job, so I probably would have to have a job and balance school with that as well, so having the Promise helps out a lot,” said Villanueva.

Walthers added that not only are students and their families receiving significant financial help, they are also having access to a quality education.

“Our students continue to be the top transfer school to Cal Poly. Our students are transferring to all the best schools in California,” said Walthers. “Our faculty are really preparing students to be four-year students. They’re getting the rigorous training that they need, so when they get to a four-year school, they’re going to be successful.”

To be eligible for the Hancock Promise, students must have graduated immediately from within the Allan Hancock Joint Community College District, which encompasses Northern Santa Barbara County.

This includes public, private, charter or home schools.

Students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average, complete one math and one English course as outlined in the Student Education Plan, complete 12 units each semester and complete financial aid applications.

According to the school, the Hancock Promise will save students more than $1,200. It will also allow students to receive first pick of classes with priority registration, plus have access to priority counseling, free tutoring and other academic support services.

Villanueva, who is majoring in business and hopes to transfer to USC, believes the program will inspire area students for years to come.

“I know students who have said I don’t know if I’m going to go to college,” said Villanueva. “I can’t afford it and now that the Promise has come in, everyone is wanting to go to college and wanting to further their education and pursue the dreams that they always wanted to pursue, but they never thought they could.”

There is still time for students to take advantage of the financial opportunity.

Registration continues until the start of classes next Monday.

For more information about classes and registration, visit the Allan Hancock College website.

For information on the Hancock Promise, visit

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