The Promise program is funded by private donations and was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Photo by Shana Thompson
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Colleges waive tuition for first-time, full-time Promise program students

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include both Palomar College and MiraCosta College in the announcement regarding tuition-free higher education for first-time, full-time California College Promise program participants.

OCEANSIDE — Two San Diego County community colleges announced today they expect to waive tuition for thousands of first-time, full-time students as part of the California College Promise program.

The Promise program, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last October, covers a year of tuition for first-time students with financial need in California, as well as textbooks and other school supplies. Funding is provided by private donations and state and local entities.

At MiraCosta College in Oceanside, students who graduated from a high school within the community college’s district — MiraCosta serves coastal North San Diego County through its main campus in Oceanside, at 1 Barnard Drive, and San Elijo campus in Cardiff-by-the-Sea — can receive up to $1,000 for textbooks and other supplies if eligible.

MiraCosta College and Palomar College in San Marcos expect enrollment in the program to top 2,000 combined students for the 2018-19 academic year. Palomar’s expected enrollment of 1,512 students is more than double the program’s size during 2017-18, which totaled 657 students at the end of the academic year, according to the college.

“We’re thrilled to be serving twice as many Promise students in 2018-19 as last year,” said Palomar Superintendent/President Joi Lin Blake. “It’s so important to get our first-year students off to a strong start at Palomar, and we know that serving them well is going to strengthen our region in the\ years to come.”

The Palomar College Foundation announced Friday that it received a $100,000 grant from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, a portion of which will go to funding for the school’s Promise program.

While school officials at MiraCosta don’t have an exact estimate, they expect an increase over the 434 students in the school’s program last year. MiraCosta aims to cover two full years of tuition and fees for qualifying students in the near future.

“Promise aims to remove a significant hurdle for college-bound students; tuition, mandatory fees and textbook costs for eligible full-time students,” said MiraCosta Superintendent and President Sunita Cooke. “Promise is boosting transfer and certificate attainment rates, improving academic performance and expanding higher education access to underserved populations.”

In a recent press release, MiraCosta College said that it hopes to see a sizeable increase in the number of participants this year.

“We encourage all first-time, full-time students to contact our Financial Aid office to ensure they are maximizing funding assistance,” said Cooke.

For more information, visit the  MiraCostawebsite at and the Palomar College website at or contact the MiraCosta College Financial Aid offices at and the Palomar College Financial Aid Office at 

Students must complete and submit either a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a California Dream Act Application to be eligible for the MiraCosta and Palomar Promise.