For many, the prospect of paying for college can seem impossible. But for local high school graduates, that notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Five years ago, Cuesta College debuted its Promise Scholarship. The program allows any recent graduate of a San Luis Obispo County high school an opportunity to attend college without fees for the first year. Thanks to an $8 million-dollar endowment by the Charles and Leeta Dovica Family Trust, nearly 3,000 SLO County students have attended Cuesta through the scholarship.
In 2016, then-Cuesta Superintendent/President Dr. Gil Stork and others announced a fundraising goal of nearly $10 million to support a second year of fee-free enrollment. In response, the community delivered nearly $3 million in private donations to the Cuesta College Foundation. In October of 2017, Governor Jerry Brown also signed into law AB19, which waived fees for students enrolled with 12 or more semester units in their first year.
“This is the second year that the Cuesta Promise will provide our students the opportunity to concentrate on their education rather than concerning themselves on how they will pay for it,” said Dr. Maria Escobedo, Dean of the North County Campus and South County Center.
To be eligible for the Promise a second year, students must earn over 50 percent of their units attempted and sustain a 2.00 grade point average or higher in their first year. Among those participating in the second year of the Promise is freshman Anna Betts, who plans to transfer to the University of California, Santa Cruz and then pursue a career in economics.
“I chose Cuesta because the Promise saves an incredible amount of money and allows me to stay close to my family while I complete my general education. But community colleges are awesome — the instructors are very approachable and class sizes are way smaller than at a university and I like that,” Anna said.
Anna’s mother, Aimee La Rue, couldn’t agree more about her daughter’s decision.
“Because of the two-year Cuesta Promise, a local family can save an average of $50,000 for those two years. It’s remarkable if you think about it. It is absolutely the most sound financial option.”
The Cuesta Promise application for academic year 2019-20 is open through August 1, 2019. Visit www.cuesta.edu/admissionsaid/cuestapromise/index.