What financial aid can’t cover, this program will

The Dallas County Promise scholarship program is a effort to build community support by assisting qualified students with funding for the first two years of college. Dallas County Promise granted scholarships to 31 high schools with more than 2,000 student participants in its first year.

The mission of the Dallas County Promise is to help all Dallas County students achieve a college education. The assistance will encourage and fuel the minds of students in the Dallas County area and give them a necessary nudge to further their education past high school.

 The scholarship program is not government funded. Funding is generated by the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) Foundation. According to Ann Hatch, DCCCD Director of Media Relations, “The DCCCD Foundation is the originator of scholarship funds, so it’s not government money.”

The Promise tries to cover the difference between financial aid and out-of-pocket cost to help better enable students avoid copious debt while attending college. “The difference between federal aid and this scholarship is that not all students qualify for  federal aid,” said Hatch said.

“Students who meet the eligibility requirements for the Promise get a ‘last dollar scholarship.’ This means, whatever financial aid does not pay for, a Dallas County Promise scholarship will.”

Undocumented students also have access to the Promise since they do not have access to federal funds due to their status. “DCCCD has a history of supporting undocumented students and they can be Dallas County Promise students as long as they follow the required steps,” said Hatch.

This financial aid leverage helps a lot of students fully immerse themselves in the college experience. They are able to direct more focus on their studies and extracurricular activities and spend less time trying to  work.

“Since I don’t have to pay for tuition, I don’t feel the pressure to work as much and this has allowed me join a lot of clubs, have extra study time, as well as time for myself,” said Suzanne Njoku, a Promise student from Mountain View College. “This program pushes me to perform my very best. I have to maintain a 2.0 GPA and above in order to maintain this scholarship.”

According to the criteria set by the Foundation, if a Promise student averages below a 2.0 GPA for a semester, they lose their scholarship. This conditional clause keeps students on their toes and encourages them to prioritize their studies.

This is the pioneer year for this program and it’s growing fast. “The program is planning on expanding to as many high schools and universities willing,” said Hatch. “We’re also making history as the first program to include the class range from kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as universities in our partnership.

“Our concentration is on high school, but we still want everyone involved.”

DCCCD colleges have fewer people and therefore less infrastructure than four-year universities. This can come with pros and cons.

“The only disadvantage community colleges have is that they don’t have dorms or sponsored housing, but that’s why most students already live in the area,” Njoku said.