School News
Announcing the Dallas County Promise: free college tuition for Dallas County high school seniors
By Dallas County Community College District
Nov 4, 2017
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Dallas – A college promise is really a commitment to education. Especially when it’s made by the Dallas County Community College District and university partners to students who need college skills and credentials to build careers, find jobs that pay a living wage and drive a growing North Texas economy.

That’s why the Dallas County Promise is so important. DCCCD’s promise to students is this: free tuition with options for transfer scholarships through the University of North Texas at Dallas. Southern Methodist University will partner with Dallas County Promise to select students for transfer scholarships to support future leaders of Dallas County.  Additional university partners will join the Dallas County Promise team as well. The promise starts with 31 area high schools in 2018 and will expand to other Dallas County schools in subsequent years.

 Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor, said it best with the announcement of the new program: “Guided by the vision of the DCCCD Foundation, with the support of our trustees, and supported by the engagement of our community as well as several area universities, I am proud to announce the Dallas County Promise. We know that the greatest barrier to college completion is cost. With the support of our partners, we will create more affordable pathways to college completion, which also will align with the needs of the North Texas workforce. It’s a game-changer for students, businesses and the communities we serve that will transform lives.”

 The first group of Promise high schools will graduate students in spring 2018. Leading up to that point, high school seniors at those schools must complete these steps in order to be eligible for the program:

  • sign a “Promise Pledge” by Jan. 31, 2018;
  • complete an ApplyTX or DCCCD admissions application and submit FAFSA/TASFA forms, listing their DCCCD college of choice, by March 15, 2018;
  • enroll at a DCCCD college and complete registration by July 31, 2018; and
  • maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete at least 18 credit hours each academic year to continue to receive tuition benefits.

The Dallas County Promise is a scholarship offered by the Dallas County Community College District Foundation; it’s an expansion of the existing Rising Star scholarship program. All students who are seniors at participating Dallas County high schools who meet the Promise deadlines will receive sufficient funding to pay the full cost of tuition for up to three years or degree completion at any DCCCD college.

Promise Scholars will benefit from college success mentors and also will be able to receive a Rising Star scholarship which covers the cost of books if they have a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher and meet income requirements.

The University of North Texas at Dallas was the first university which promised to match the tuition-free guarantee for Dallas County students who attend participating high schools. “The problem of college completion in Dallas County is just too big for any one institution to address alone,” said Bob Mong, president of UNT Dallas. “This has to be a community effort.”

 “The Dallas County Promise program is a great opportunity that will provide college access to more students,” said Dr. Michael Hinojosa, superintendent for the Dallas Independent School District. “The cost of college can be a deciding factor in whether or not students attend college. This program helps to remove that barrier and ensures that our students are even more prepared to join the ranks of an educated, well-trained workforce.”

 The Dallas County Promise proposes to reduce the gap in both skills and credentials which creates a tale of two cities in the region: a growing economy with a rising poverty rate. Dallas is one of the fastest-growing economic regions in the country. However, only 27 percent of all high school graduates currently are earning two- or four-year degrees within six years of their high school completion. 

The Dallas County Promise proposes to help a substantially higher number of students complete college, which gives them a greater number of economic opportunities that require a post-secondary credential. The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce has reported that 99 percent of all new jobs created since the 2008 recession require some college after high school graduation.

 “The DCCCD Foundation wanted to build on the success of the Rising Star scholarship by focusing on helping more students complete college who are prepared for the workforce,” said Dr. Pyeper Wilkins, chief advancement officer and executive director of the foundation. “With the support of the Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey and Company, and the Commit partnership, we were able to develop a Promise strategy which is modeled after the success of the Tennessee Promise.”

 The first 31 high schools in Cohort 1 of the Dallas County Promise form the initial group for the program’s launch. Campuses that were invited to participate all are either TEA-approved 2017-2018 early college high schools co-sponsored by a DCCCD college, or they are co-sponsors with a DCCCD college for a collegiate academy which produced graduates with a degree from one of DCCCD’s seven colleges by spring 2017.

 May added, “Boosting college completion rates in Dallas County is a community effort. We have committed our district and our resources to do this work with area school districts, universities and businesses in our communities. We take the state’s 60X30TX goal seriously. The Dallas County Promise is our answer to that plan, ensuring that 60 percent of all Texans have a college credential by 2030.”

 For details about the Dallas County Promise, visit www.dallascountypromise.org  or contact Pyeper Wilkins with the DCCCD Foundation at pwilkins@dcccd.edu or at 214-378-1538.