Hedging On the Promise

CAC “Promise for the Future” now pays only after other scholarships and grants are deducted

By Dana Trumbull

It’s that time of year when high school seniors and their parents begin getting serious about finding the right college and scholarships to support the trek toward a degree and future career. Since 2001, many Pinal County students have started that journey with two years at Central Arizona College (CAC), cashing in on a pledge they made in 8th grade to stay in school and keep their grades up to a modest 2.75 or higher cumulative grade point average. In return, CAC rewarded graduates with four semesters of free tuition at any CAC campus. The program, called Promise for the Future, was developed to motivate Pinal County youth to stay in high school and graduate, knowing that access to a college education was possible, regardless of financial limitations.

In 2014, CAC added a requirement that the student must also complete 20 hours of community service prior to high school graduation. The change was added to the pledge and phased in with the 2014 8th grade class, so the class of 2018 will be the first to enter college with this requirement.

In March of 2017, another change was made to the Promise; however, that change applied immediately to graduates entering CAC in the fall semester of 2017.

Beginning with the fall semester of 2017, students applying to use the Promise funds must first complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Any federal grants the student qualifies for, along with scholarships earned through local or organizational sources (those not earmarked for specific colleges or universities) will be applied to the student’s tuition at CAC prior to awarding Promise for the Future funds. In other words, if the student qualifies for enough grants and scholarships to cover CAC tuition, they will not receive any Promise for the Future benefits, even though these requirements were not in effect when current high school graduates signed their 8th grade pledge.

In its current form, the Promise for the Future continues to ensure that every student who stays in school and maintains acceptable grades can attend college without worrying about tuition; however, they can no longer count on using other awards such as local scholarships and Pell Grant funds to pay for textbooks, transportation, meals and other incidental needs.

“While the Foundation donors have not decreased,” explained CAC Executive Director of Public Relations Angela Askey, “changes were made to maintain the sustainability of the Promise.


Academic Scholarships

In addition to the Promise for the Future Scholarship, the top 10% of Pinal County high schools’ graduating classes receive Academic Scholarships equal to the full amount of in-state tuition up to 12 credit hours. Participating awardees must enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours in the semester immediately following high school graduation. Unlike the Promise for the Future Scholarship, the Academic Scholarship remains independent of other scholarships and grants earned by the recipients.

For more information about Promise for the Future Scholarships at CAC, contact: Margaret (Maggie) Dooley, Director, CAC Foundation, 520.494.5215 or margaret.dooley1@centralaz.edu.

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