The trend of major city community colleges to make tuition-free opportunities available to its students continued last week as the Community College of Philadelphia announced such an initiative — called the 50th Anniversary Scholarship — for low-income graduates of the city’s beleaguered school district.
With the announcement, the City of Brotherly Love joins Chicago, Ill.; Detroit, Mich.; Miami, Fla.; Seattle, Wash.; and Portland, Ore., with similar programs focused exclusively on two-year colleges.
The Community College of Philadelphia’s foundation will cover costs for the program, which will begin immediately for the Class of 2015, and has a goal to raise $10 million to create an endowment. The hope is to build that to $40 million and cover such expenses as books in the future.
Wrote Susan Snyder of the Philadelphia Inquirer, “College officials estimate that 440 students will qualify for the program in the first year and by the third year, the number will rise to 845.”
“There are far too many students who, even with financial aid, are unable to meet the gap that exists between the financial aid they get and what final tuition would be,” said college president Guy Generals. “We do think it will attract more students, which increases enrollment. For us, that’s a good thing.”
In addition to students from the public school system — which has experienced a troubling number of layoffs and school closings in recent years — the Scholarship is also available to those in private, parochial and charter schools.
Students will need to maintain a 2.5 grade-point average at the end of each academic year to keep the scholarship, which allows three years for degree completion. Other requirements include participation in an extracurricular activity and a support program as well as a once-a-semester meeting with an advisor.