De Anza offers first year tuition free to qualifying new students

Lianna Martinez, Staff Reporter

De Anza College will implement a new First Year Promise program offering free tuition and $500 for textbooks to students in their first year of college starting this fall.

“Eligibility is based on state guidelines and is not based on income,” said Rob Mieso, vice president of student services, who is overseeing the program.

“We started a pilot fall 2018 with about 175 students. We are now scaling to full implementation starting fall 2019 with all new incoming students that qualify,” Mieso said.

De Anza’s First Year Promise is funded by Assembly Bill 19, which allows districts to decide how to cover fees for first time or full time students.

We expect (the program) to continue as long as the state is willing to fund it,” Mieso said.

The goal of the First Year Promise is to “increase college access, equity, and affordability,” said Mieso.      

“We hope more students will take advantage of this great resource at De Anza,” Mieso said. “However, enrollment is impacted by several factors and this program alone will not resolve the enrollment challenges we face.”

Ashley Bryant, 25, criminal justice major, said the program may have some drawbacks.

“It’s good but then at the same time does that mean students who are on their second or third year at De Anza get a school year as free as well?” asked Bryant.

Gulab Singh, 20, undecided, thinks this program can be very beneficial for students.

Singh said the program will help in many ways, “from reducing the financial burden of rising costs of a college education, to allowing students more time and energy to focus on studies rather than part time work.”

According to De Anza’s Institutional Research and Planning Office, students that received the program reported higher success rates compared to students during winter 2019.

Retention rates were high among students who received the program compared to all other De Anza students, resulting in a 2% to 3% increase.