The Palomar Promise Program has helped many high school graduates take hold of their desire for higher education.
The Promise Program gives one year of free college tuition to incoming freshman within the area. In addition to $1,000 for books as well as education and career guidance.
Students began the application process during their senior year of high school. By June 2, Palomar had received 2,036 applications for first year experience. Of those that applied over 800 students qualified for the Promise.
One of those students is 18-year-old Rynon Reyes. Reyes’ family is from the Philippines, he is a first-generation immigrant and the first in his family to go to an American college. At the beginning of his senior year, Reyes began to research college and the best option for his life goals.
“Right before my senior year I hopped on the website to check out teachers and all that and right on the front page it said ‘free year of tuition at Palomar’ and I was like ‘is this fake?’ This is absurd. So I click on it and it is very vague. A couple months into school they started giving out more details. I called the director of the San Marcos (CSUSM) promise, and I asked him about it and he told me all the details about how they were going to give that first year free,” Reyes said.
Reyes desires to pursue a degree in nursing and aspires to have a life where he can provide for the people he cares about. Being a part of the Promise has inspired Reyes to push himself to do his best.
“Being on the Promise is actually pretty cool. You would think with free college, people might feel entitled to education or something like that, but with context surrounding college already being super expensive, its kind of like ‘oh people are paying for me and it’s free I shouldn’t waste it’. So, it actually kind of invigorated me to be able to do a lot better than I would normally just set myself to do,” Reyes said.
The key to getting in on the Promise, Reyes feels, is to be proactive. Researching the requirements, how to apply, calling the school, staying connected and asking people what to do.
“You can’t just wait for people to kind of spoon feed you, and tell you exactly what to do. In my case, I was very proactive and I was constantly calling people…I think if you’re like that and they can tell you really want to be part of the program, then your going to be in it,” Reyes said.
With college expenses seemingly becoming greater, the Palomar Promise program has excited its community. People have been tweeting about their feelings towards the Promise.
Heads Up America, an entity working to create two years of free college at education for all students tweeted, “The #PalomarPromise is a great example of a community coming together to support the next generation through #FreeCommunityCollege.”
Veronica Harrison, a San Marcos mother, also tweeted about Palomar Promise, stating, “It’s great that this is something that is becoming reality in our own backyard.”
Students enrolled in the Palomar Promise program have a list of criteria they must maintain while attending college under the Promise. A student must be enrolled in a total of 12 units and keep at least 2.0 GPA. Additionally, they must meet with a student success counselor to set up their educational plan, continue to engage in the FYE program, and follow the FYE/Promise student agreement.
Palomar President, Joi Lin Blake, commented on the Promise, stating, “You know, I’m ecstatic because the Palomar Promise isn’t just about getting a free education. It’s about access, it’s about affordability, but it’s also about Palomar being a game changer in the lives of those folks that have been marginalized and we are creating opportunities for economic mobility for everyone in North County that graduates from high school.”