Simitian Proposes County Support Foothill College's Early College Promise Program

June 6, 2018

San Jose -- The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will consider a three-year effort to expand participation in Foothill College’s Early College Promise Program beginning next year.  The proposal is by Board President Joe Simitian.

“Early College Promise will remove barriers and create a stronger foundation for at-risk students who are less likely to finish high school and head to college,” said Simitian. “Reducing dropout rates and enhancing our workforce will be a significant benefit to the County’s economy.” 

By offering college enrollment for at-risk students in their final years of high school, Early College Promise builds on the national College Promise movement, which has led to many state-level programs that incentivize college – including free community college - for students from demographic groups least likely to attend college. 

Dual enrollment has increasingly been cited as a way to jump-start students’ college careers. It increases the percent and speed of college graduation rates, and provides high school students with real-world exposure. 

The proposal is for the County to disburse $100,000 annually to Foothill College from 2019 through 2021.  Using those funds, Foothill will be able to increase participation by 300 students a year, and fund textbooks, Clipper Cards, supplies, tutoring, academic counseling, and orientation-to-college programs.  

Foothill Community College launched the Early College Promise program in 2017 to bolster the enrollment and graduation of underrepresented students. The program enables current high school students to dual enroll at Foothill College for two years for free. 

Students’ tuition, textbook/material, and public transportation costs are all waived.  The program is aimed at students that are historically underrepresented in higher education, including ethnic minorities, low-income, and first-generation students. 

Foothill College is currently partnering with high schools in Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Los Altos, and is contacting other communities to explore expanding the program. County funding would allow the program to expand participant capacity, cover the cost of students’ textbooks, and tutoring and counseling services. 

Dual enrollment allows current high school students to take college courses, usually at community colleges. According to the Community College Resource Center, 46% of students who dual enrolled in high school and went on to attend community college completed a certificate or degree within five years.

Dual enrollment also exposes students to the rigors and expectations of college coursework. This preview reduces the risk of dropping out because students understand what to expect. Upon entering college, students who were previously dual enrolled are able to complete their degrees faster because they have already earned college credits. This allows them to save money on tuition and enter the workforce sooner. 



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