Alamo Colleges District proposes free tuition

By Anna Castellanos
Pulse Staff Reporter

Student meets with staff at the Financial Aid Office. Photo by Anna Castellanos.

One major problem students face every day is having the desire to further their education but not having the finances to continue after graduating from high school.

A solution to these problems is in the works. “AlamoPROMISE” is the name of this project. City, county and business leaders are working together to provide free college tuition to all seniors graduating from Bexar County high schools. All graduating seniors will be eligible for the program but will be required to meet deadlines for admission applications, financial aid applications, registration and other eligibility requirements.

This project is being implemented after reviewing college completion rates nationwide. The national ratio of adults having a high school diploma is 88%, some college education at 59%, 33% with a bachelor’s degree and 12% with advanced degrees, such as master’s and doctoral. San Antonio is lower than the rest of the country, with 26% of residents with a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree, compared to 45% nationally.

“I hope people take advantage of this opportunity. Kids like me who don’t have much appreciate every ounce of help we can get. Everyone should be that way,” said Gabriel Saenz, a freshman Business major at Palo Alto College.

Saenz’s first semester of college was Spring 2019, and he hopes everything works out for him so that he can continue to further his studies in the fall.

“My most looked forward to thing is that I will be able to focus on my learning and not about how I will pay for school the following semester,” said Saenz.

Saenz wasn’t the only one happy about this possible change. Many students are rooting for the possibility of a free college education.

Gloria Garza, a sophomore at Palo Alto College, explained her joy.

“I think the program they are trying to develop is going to open doors for so many people who seek education but cannot afford it. I believe that a lot more students are going to be involved with school and will be offered so many opportunities they would not receive outside of school,” she said.

Many students pursue higher education after high school but are not able to continue because of financial difficulties. For some students, all they need is a small push to accomplish great things.

Maria Cruz, a senior at Brackenridge High School, is one of the students who hopes the plan is approved so she can blossom and learn everything her mind is capable of learning.

“I don’t have much, but to have an education is good enough for me. To be able to say I know and have studied something well enough to get a job for it, then I win. The only disadvantage that would come out of this is not taking full advantage,” said Cruz.

As of right now, the project is still under construction and the potential cost is being estimated at $2 million for the first year, and increasing to $15 million once the program is fully operating. The first group of high school students to have free-tuition schooling will be the graduating class of 2020.

“No cost should be placed on learning; here is the start to better education,” said Cruz.

For more information, visit the Alamo Colleges’ website, you can find more information on the Financial Aid tab or the Admissions tab.