The North Orange County Community College District has partnered with Cal State Fullerton and Fullerton College to create a new program. The Fullerton Education Partnership will offer a chance at free college tuition for a year for transferring high school students in the district.
This partnership can reach out to the eight other cities in the district as well including Brea, La Habra and Buena Park.
The district has given its reasons as to why this partnership is so beneficial. Especially to high school students who are in desperate need of financial aid.
According to Community College District Chancellor Dr. Cheryl Marshall in a March 2019 Memo to District Employees, available on the NOCCCD YouTube channel, half of the students in Calif. community colleges work part time or have trouble affording meals. Nearly one out of five of those same students are either homeless or do not have a stable place to live.
“Beginning in fall 2019 all first year college students who meet the criteria are eligible for free tuition and student health fees at Cypress College and Fullerton College,” Dr. Marshall said.
This partnership is integral to ensuring that high school students who otherwise wouldn’t get any higher education due to finances still have options that help them achieve their academic goals. Including, more transfers to Cal State Fullerton.
In order to qualify for free tuition, you must be a high school graduate (or accepted equivalency), plan to enroll full-time or in 12 units, and apply for financial aid. You also must be a first-time college student, and be a Calif. resident or Dream Act approved applicant. If financial aid is denied to you, the partnership will pay for your first-year tuition.
Students will also need to develop a education plan with a counselor, according to the official press release. https://www.nocccd.edu/files/promise-press-release-pdf_86719.pdf
In comparison, Fullerton College also currently offers the Anaheim Union Educational Pledge, known as The Anaheim Pledge. This program also gives one full year of tuition-free education. The Anaheim Pledge gives community colleges, including Fullerton and Cypress, the opportunity to get academic support while still in the Anaheim district, as well as opportunities for dual enrollment.
The Anaheim Pledge offers guaranteed admission to UCI after meeting Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) requirements as well as admission advantage to CSUF when both directly applying or transferring from Cypress or Fullerton Colleges.
Even though these programs are fairly new, many expressed support once they heard about it. With tuition prices for major universities being as expensive as they are, it’s a nice change of pace for many people to hear that an community college offering to waive those fees.
According to Kyra Kirkwood, journalism instructor at Fullerton College, enrollment overall to community colleges have been on the decline, so this is still a great opportunity for students who may otherwise have trouble enrolling in college courses due to finances.
History and political science major Eli Acosta was impressed when he first heard about the news, but stated some concerns about the mass number of students that may be enrolling this upcoming fall semester, specifically how these incoming students could affect class sizes.
“I think more people will enroll,” Acosta said. “ But the retention rate could drop.”
Film major Ernie Madrid mirrors this concern, and also said that some people might jump at the opportunity for free tuition, but then back out once they realize the deal is primarily for a community college.
Both Acosta and Madrid also agree that more schools should enact free tuition.
“I honestly think it’s ridiculous how expensive other colleges are,” Madrid said.
Despite missing out on the free tuition as a currently enrolled student, both Madrid and Acosta expressed how groundbreaking it is for new students to have a chance to have a full year tuition free.
“I wish they could have done [free tuition earlier], It would have been useful when I was enrolling.” Madrid added.