First-year college students at Orange Coast College can now receive two years of free tuition with the Pirates’ Promise program.

Orange Coast College’s Pirates’ Promise has been extended to help students get a second year of free tuition and textbook support.

The program, launched last year for first-time students, aims to help students who can’t get financial aid through FAFSA or the California Dream Act application. OCC has invested in the program to get rid of two years of some schooling-related financial stress for qualifying students.

“The program was extended to two years because Orange Coast College is committed to the success of its students and wants to help them accelerate their education in order to start their career or transfer sooner,” a Student Equity spokesman said.  

Students looking to apply for their second year of Pirates’ Promise have to meet various requirements.

First, they had to have participated in the first year of the program in the 2018-2019 school year. Other requirements for second and first year Pirates’ Promise applicants include being a California resident, enrolling in 12 units or more and having applied for financial aid.

If students are applying for their first year of coverage under Pirates’ Promise they must have not attended OCC or another college at any time before the 2019-2020 school year. Students who qualify must complete an educational plan with a counselor, maintain 12 units and a 2.0 GPA.

Students on campus have said that staff and faculty at OCC are making sure they know about the program.

For some, including 18-year-old liberal arts major Wendy Campos, academic counselors were vital in notifying them of what Pirates’ Promise offered.  

“My counselor told me to apply on top of already applying for FAFSA so that I can get all the help I financially need,” Campos said.

Aside from counselors, OCC faculty and staff are working on getting the word out about the program to eligible students.

“All eligible students are emailed to submit an application to receive these funds,” a Student Equity spokesman said. “We work closely with campus constituents to include the Outreach department, freshman priority registration team and Financial Aid office to share information on these eligible funds.”

The funding for Pirates’ Promise is provided through state funds, AB 19, in support of the California College Promise. The money is already available for students to take advantage of but since it’s a newer program not many know about it. This includes people outside of the current student population.

“We are actively trying to outreach to the community, K-12 schools, and campus at large of the available funds,” the spokesman said. Students with questions about the program can contact Student Equity Office at (714) 432-6847 or email freetuition@occ.cccd.edu.

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