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College pledges free tuition in the San Marcos promise

Palomar officials said recently that they have cut a deal to help San Marcos School District students achieve their college dream.

Palomar Promise is a partnership with San Marcos Unified School District that allows all eligible district high school graduates free tuition for two years. Starting fall 2017, San Marcos City high school graduates qualify if they’ve graduated with a GPA of 2.5, pass the Palomar placement tests for transferrable math and English courses, and have filled the Federal Application for Free Student Aid.

The programs press release presented vague requirements however the essential needs to qualify are clearly stated. FAFSA qualifies students financial assistance for educational needs. The limitations for student admittance into the program based on financial eligibility is still unknown.

Adrian Gonzales, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services, said through e-mail that financial awards will vary depending on other forms of financial aid.

Palomar freshman Brianna Bernal, who just graduated high school from Escondido said she was frustrated that it is not available for people like her from the Escondido School District. It’s also not effective until fall 2017 which is out of Bernal’s educational timeframe.

She described a friend of hers that graduated from San Marcos High who’s told her that San Marcos students are actually pretty well off, so she feels students in her city (Escondido) could use it more.

“This Palomar Promise should be available to more surrounding cities anyways since Palomar brings in students from lots of other cities,” Bernal said.

Ana Martinez, who has been at Palomar for a few semesters and is a high school graduate of San Marcos High School, felt excitement for future San Marcos graduates who would benefit from the program.

“A lot of friends I had in high school didn’t try very hard because they knew they couldn’t afford college, but if they had this opportunity they probably would’ve worked harder,” Martinez said.

Martinez is hopeful that they’ll let her take advantage of this since she was a San Marcos High School student.

Gonzales stated that President Joi Lin Blake is “interested” in extending the promise across all school districts and will be making a campaign effort for long term support.

Come fall 2017 Palomar will find out whether or not Palomar Promise will bring in disadvantage students from the area. If there is a low turn out, students like Bernal would be a prime target demographic to provide the program to.

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