Michael Sanchez is an SBCC Promise student. (SBCC Foundation photo)

Michael Sanchez is excited about having just completed his first semester as a full-time student at Santa Barbara City College. Equally exciting is the fact that all of the required fees, books and supplies for his classes were completely covered, thanks to the SBCC Promise.

“The SBCC Promise presented an amazing opportunity, taking away barriers to going to college. And going to college has changed my life,” Sanchez said.

He enjoys challenging classes and is planning on taking full advantage of the outstanding educational opportunities at SBCC. While focusing on culinary arts, he’s also exploring courses in photography.

Watch the SBCC Promise video: Michael Sanchez

YouTube video

The SBCC Promise, launched in fall 2016, provides all local high school graduates with the opportunity to attend SBCC full time free of charge, for up to two years. By removing financial barriers, the SBCC Promise is making the community’s college fully accessible to all local students who are willing to make the necessary commitment. By enrolling in the fall or spring semester immediately after high school graduation and attending full time, students are not only eligible for the SBCC Promise but also are more likely to successfully complete their studies, according to long-term research on college achievement.

While many college promise programs have sprung up across the country in the past few years — fewer than 40 existed in 2015, and now there are approximately 200 — the SBCC Promise is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive as it covers all required fees, books and supplies for two full years. Also extraordinary is that 100 percent of the funding for the SBCC Promise comes from donations made by supportive individuals and organizations.

Sanchez is just one of the 749 Promise students who completed the spring 2017 semester. Because of the full-time requirement, the average unit load of these local students has increased dramatically. This has provided an additional benefit to the college, as the increased unit load of the SBCC Promise students generated more than $500,000 in funds for SBCC through the State of California’s apportionment system in its first year, and it’s on track to generate $1 million per year going forward.

The SBCC Promise reinforces the community college’s commitment to the local community and strengthens the region’s economy, neighborhoods and families. Santa Barbara City College is repeatedly ranked among the nation’s top community colleges because of its remarkable faculty and staff, history of innovation, student achievement and more. Whether a student wishes to pursue a trade, earn a certificate, complete an AA degree or transfer to a four-year institution, SBCC is the place and the SBCC Promise provides a pathway.

You can support the SBCC Promise at sbccpromise.org/support.

— Jennifer LeMay is the marketing director for the SBCC Foundation.