The purpose of 13th Year Promise is to increase access to higher education for the community’s students, particularly those from underrepresented groups — students of color, low-income students and first-generation college students.
Based on research from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges which demonstrates that a high school diploma and one year of college is the critical “Tipping Point” for a student to earn living wage jobs and/or continue his or her education, this Promise requires students to apply for state and federal grant money. Any remaining tuition to South Seattle College is covered for the first year by the 13th Year fund, which began with the Cleveland High School Class of 2008. It now covers four high schools and roughly two-thirds of the students in those high schools apply.
When the 13th Year program started seven years ago, about 20 students took advantage of the free tuition. This year, 120 freshmen are taking part.
“It’s been incredible. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and seeing what can happen when you can say to an entire community ‘every single one of you can be a college student,’” said Elizabeth Pluhta, the Associate Vice President of College Relations and Advancement at South Seattle.