Harris Co. Promise program enables greater access to higher education for Pasadena ISD students

Jul 23, 2020Andrea Vasquez
Promise 2020 San Jacinto College

As the cost of higher education continues to rise, the odds of completing any degree or certification drop lower each year. To boost those odds, not only in graduating college students but by creating a college-going culture among underrepresented high school students, San Jacinto College has partnered with Pasadena ISD and Good Reason Houston as participants in the Harris County Promise program.

High school seniors from Pasadena ISD's Dobie, Sam Rayburn, and South Houston high schools now have an opportunity to have their full tuition and fees at San Jacinto College paid by becoming Harris County Promise Scholars. The Harris County Promise program is available to Texas resident high school seniors, regardless of GPA or family income. Eligible seniors who become Promise Scholars receive up to three years of guaranteed tuition and fees, assistance with books, and additional support to help them complete their degrees. Other participating Houston-area school districts include Aldine ISD (Aldine Senior, Eisenhower, and Nimitz high schools) and Alief ISD (Taylor High School) with partnerships with Lone Star College and Houston Community College, respectively.

"San Jacinto College's partnership with Good Reason Houston for the Harris County Promise program is transformative for our community and the students we serve," said Jose DejesusGil, San Jacinto College director of outreach and recruiting. "We have an incredible opportunity to support the college-going culture for underrepresented students and impact the education attainment levels in our area."

Dobie student Jennifer Carcamo says joining the Promise program means that her parents don't have to worry about any financial sacrifice to send her to college.

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"I was worried I wasn't going to be able to go to college since it's really expensive, and my parents wouldn't be able to afford to send me, especially with my other two sisters in school," Carcamo said. "When I told them about the Promise program, it was a big relief for all of us, and they were happy to know I would be able to go to college now."

Promise is a last-dollar scholarship program covering the cost of tuition and fees at San Jacinto College. "Last-dollar" means the scholarship kicks in after all other grant and scholarship funding has been applied. To be eligible, students must qualify for in-district tuition (reside in the College's taxing district) and complete all steps by their associated deadline.

Promise Scholars also receive extra perks when they enroll in a partner college, including their own success coach to help navigate college life. The Promise pledge is the first step in the process. It is not binding, and students are not required to attend a Promise college.

Having extra help is something Tatyana Johnson, also a Dobie senior, feels is important as a college freshman.

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"I was getting anxiety and feeling like time was running out as far as where I was going to attend college this fall," said Johnson. "Even though my grades and GPA were good, I still wasn't getting accepted into the colleges and universities I had applied to, and I remembered San Jac had the Promise program. After talking to my parents about it, they were really supportive and thought it was the best idea so that I could take my time and get more courses out of the way before going to a big university."

Johnson adds that asking for help is one of the best things high school and college students can do to advocate for themselves.

"Don't be afraid to talk to your teachers and ask for the extra help you need," Johnson said. "It will only benefit you in the long run."

Updated fall 2023: Learn about the Promise @ San Jac Scholarship, formerly connected to the Harris County Promise program.

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