The San Bernardino Community College District is offering a “Free Promise Program” for new high school graduates who are starting college this fall at Crafton Hills College or San Bernardino Valley College. The program provides funding for full-time college students to earn an associate degree or get a career training certificate. Students are guaranteed two years of free tuition, free textbooks, free access to a laptop, cash for college expenses, priority registration, student support, and opportunities for paid work experience.
In return, students must enroll in and complete at least 12 units per semester, attend a Summer Bridge Program, participate in activities such as workshops, complete a Student Educational Plan, and meet with a counselor regularly.
There are no minimum GPA requirements to be accepted into the program, but Promise Program students must maintain a 2.0 GPA to remain in the program.
At the end of their time at Crafton, students should be able to transfer to a four-year university such as a UC or Cal State school, where they will be able to complete their bachelor’s degree in just two years, effectively having cut the cost of that degree in half.
For many students, that is a deal too good to pass up.
Hannah Stiff, a new Crafton freshman from Yucaipa, is a Promise Program student. “I looked around at all the local universities,” she said. “I needed an academic scholarship to be able to attend them. The only school that offers full academic scholarships is ASU.”
Hannah did receive a full-tuition scholarship from ASU, but when she added up the high costs of moving to Arizona and looked at the size of the school, she wasn’t excited about attending there. “My high school counselor told me about the Promise Program at Crafton. I attended the Bridge meetings and was impressed by how they walked me through everything step-by-step. I didn’t get the same vibe at the ASU orientation that I got at the CHC one—that they are here to help me succeed. By attending Crafton, I’ll also be able to live at home, which will help me save the money that I will need when I transfer.”
Souts Xayaphanthong, the counselor at Crafton leading the project, noted, “A lot of students who were accepted at other universities have chosen to come to Crafton instead to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The application deadline for the Promise Program was August 1. About 350 students completed the steps necessary to be included in the Promise Program at Crafton this fall.