Michal Kerns, assistant superintendent and vice president of student services at the community college, said that Passport to College, established in 2006, was a promise to 12,036 students in 257 fifth-grade classes from 146 schools. The students could receive full financial support for their first two years of higher education if they continued to do well through high school.
It is a promise that Susanne Goias, mother of 18-year-old Madison, was eager for her daughter to pursue.
“The program encourages the kids to focus and do well in high school,” Susanne Goias said.
Madison Goias just graduated from Kimball High School and planned early on in her high school career to take advantage of the promise made to her eight years ago.
“I decided that I was going to utilize this opportunity when I got into high school, because I realized that time goes by fast and we need to be prepared for our future,” she said.
In 2012, the Delta College Board of Trustees approved a $2.25 million loan from the San Joaquin Delta College Foundation to cover the Passport to College students’ fees.
Students must complete 60 units — two years of credits — within three years of continuous study.
Failed and dropped classes will be counted toward the 60-unit maximum to ensure that students are actively trying to succeed.
The program requires students and representatives from their respective high schools to complete a series of steps and sign what Kerns called a Passport Agreement.
The steps include: attending a Delta College-sponsored parent information night, submitting an application for admission to the college, completing an academic assessment test and filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
“All of the requirements Delta has asked for has forced the students to practice independence early on; Madison has done pretty much everything on her own,” Susanne Goias said.
The FAFSA determines whether a student can receive financial aid outside of the Passport to College program, which will then pay any costs that are not covered.
“Over the past few years, knowing that the first two years of school were taken care of was such a huge relief,” Susanne Goias said.
To measure how much of a difference the program has made, Delta College is creating reports that analyze the number of students enrolled in Fall 2013 compared with those enrolled for Fall 2014.
Kerns noted that Passport to College was a one-time program and that there are no plans to restart the eight-year-long process.
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