Free year of college promised to East County students who qualify

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EL CAJON, Calif. — Students who graduate from schools in the Grossmont Union High School District beginning in 2019 and meet certain qualifications will be able to attend Grossmont or Cuyamaca community colleges for free for one year, East County education officials announced Wednesday.

Students who qualify for the Higher Edge scholarship program created by the East County Education Alliance can take up to 30 units of course work without paying the usual $46 per unit fee. Also for free, they will also receive a laptop, a year of parking, tutoring, counseling, support services and student success workshops.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our high school graduates,” said GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson. “Every graduate can now have college and career training within their grasp, no matter their economic background.”

To qualify for the scholarship, students must have lived in GUHSD territory for at least two years, have at least a 2.0 grade-point average, and obtain their diploma from a district school.

They are also required to fill out a federal financial aid form, begin college within a year after they graduate from high school, take at least six credit hours of college classes per semester, and participate in some college preparation activities.

Current high school juniors and seniors won’t receive the tuition benefits, but will be offered free tutoring, counseling, support services and priority registration, school officials said.

The high school district encompasses El Cajon, Santee, Lakeside, Spring Valley, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Rancho San Diego, Jamul and Alpine. Grossmont College is in the northwest corner of El Cajon, and Cuyamaca College is in Rancho San Diego.

“The Higher Edge scholarship will transform East County and the lives of thousands of students,” said Cindy Miles, chancellor of the community college district. “With this scholarship and support, students will come to college prepared and confident they have the resources they need to be successful.”

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