The San Mateo Community College District in California will double its tuition waiver program through a one-time grant approved by its board of directors last week and expand double admissions for local high school students.

As part of the $470.4 million tentative budget, the board of directors approved a one-time increase of $6.75 million to the Liberty Community College strategic plan in the area. The new funding includes $3 million for the Promise Scholars program in the region. The plan includes tuition and miscellaneous fees, and provides textbook funding for full-time students. The program currently supports 2,000 students. Aaron McVean, vice principal of educational services and planning in the region, said the additional funding will enable the school district (which enrolls approximately 20,000 students) to expand the program to 4,000 students.

“We are working hard to provide community colleges for as many students as possible for free,” McVean said. “If we have all the resources in the world, it may be free for everyone, but there will always be some restrictions.”

Approximately US$2.5 million in one-time funds has been earmarked for expanding dual admissions. Another $1.25 million will be used to expand open educational resources and zero-cost textbook programs in the region.

Audrey Dow, senior vice president of Opportunity Movement at the University of California, said that California is generous in providing financial aid to students, an advocacy organization dedicated to expanding college admissions opportunities and improving completion rates. In other words, a considerable number of students are still not eligible for state financial aid grants, and university-specific programs such as San Mateo’s Commitment Scholar Program can help fill these gaps and encourage completion of university studies.

“Hopefully, with these additional resources, students can become full-time jobs through the Promise program, and they may give up their jobs or give up full-time jobs to enter the university,” Dow said.

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