Lead Story Lynwood Press West Edition

Compton College, school district agree on Compton Promise

COMPTON — Many first-time Compton College students can look forward to free classes during their first year on campus.

Last week, the college signed the “Compton Promise” agreement with the Compton Unified School District providing guaranteed admission and one-year free tuition to all CUSD graduates who earn their diplomas in 2018.

They must enroll at Compton College in the fall of the same year.

“Compton College is planning to expand it to include all high schools in their district for fall 2018,” said Ann M. Garten, community relations director for the college.

The one-year free college tuition includes the fall semester, winter term, spring semester and summer term.

Students can choose from a variety of educational pathways: earn an associate degree or certificate, transfer to a four-year college or university, or pursue career technical education.

“Over the years, the Compton Unified School District and Compton College have collaborated and maintained a rewarding partnership that supports student success,” said Keith Curry, president of Compton College.

“The establishment of an Early College High School in 2015 is one of the highlights of this partnership. It is now the perfect time to expand the Compton Promise by offering access to higher education for even more students.”

Beginning in sixth grade, Compton students and their parents will receive Early College and Career Planning sessions and information.

Through CUSD, all middle school students and parents will be asked to sign the “To & Through Pledge” to make them aware of the Compton Promise and all of its benefits, including the free year of college tuition.

“This pledge is ultimately about earing a college degree, not just going to college for a year, hence the “To and Through Pledge,” said Greg Puccia, senior director of secondary education for the Compton Unified School District.

“There is not a penalty for not signing the document; it is a ceremonial activity to build awareness and excitement for our families.”

The opportunity is not only at a local level. California students all over the state may get the same benefits of free tuition their first year of college.

On Oct. 13, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 19. The new law will provide tuition-free education at a California community college for one academic year for all first-time, full-time (12 units or more) students who submit a FAFSA or Dream application.

Assemblymen Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, authored the bill.

“Community college changed my life,” Santiago said. “It gave me choices and opportunities and it opened doors. I know that free community college will change the lives of all Californians. To educate a community is to empower a community. I am overjoyed, plain and simple.”

The bill was opposed by the state Department of Finance because of concerns that all students — regardless of financial need — would be eligible.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said his office is communicating with lawmakers and the state Department of Finance in advance of the state’s next budget cycle.

When allocations are made, Oakley will be charged with distributing the funding among participating colleges.

A legislative analysis of AB 19 estimated a cost around $31 million.

The Los Angeles College Promise, similarly aiding Los Angeles Unified School District and eligible charter school students with a free year of community college, started with seniors graduating in 2017.

Students who can participate in that program are able to attend any of nine Los Angeles Community College District campuses.

Cerritos College also offers a free year’s tuition through its Cerritos Complete program. It is is open to graduates from the Bellflower, Downey, ABC, Norwalk-La Mirada and Paramount school districts.

Other states, including Tennessee, Rhode Island, and Oregon, have also started tuition-free community college programs.

“The Compton Promise will have far-reaching effects for our three comprehensive high schools, the Compton Early College HS as well as our Alternative Ed programs by providing our students a clear-cut path to post-secondary education right here in Compton,” Puccia said.

“It is our belief this program will have far-reaching effects across the entire city of Compton for our amazing students and their families.”

Applications for enrollment at Compton College for the fall 2018 semester will be available online at www.compton.edu beginning Nov. 1. For more information about the Compton Promise, contact the Compton College Office of Outreach and School Relations at (310) 900-1600, ext. 2765.