‘Passport’ students begin free Delta education

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In 2006, the Passport to College program targeted 10,000 fifth-grade students enrolled within the San Joaquin Delta College service district, offering two years of free enrollment at the college if certain requirements were met.

Photo by Midori Morita
Desiree Garza talks about being a Passport to College student PHOTO BY MIDORI MORITA

Seven-thousand students initially signed the contract. This is the first semester these students are attending Delta.

“It helped us so much because other colleges accepted me but they were so expensive and we couldn’t find a lot of scholarships or grants for me. The Passport to College program really helped my family save a lot of money, especially to transfer out,” said Desiree Garza, a Passport to College student.

A full-time student at Delta averages more than $500 a semester in tuition fees.
In two years at Delta, that’s a savings of more than $2,000 easy.

Prices for college tuition have skyrocketed in the recent years in California.
Even if a student achieves academic success in high school, there is no guarantee they will get to attend a prestigious four-year university.

The Passport to College program gives students of all backgrounds an equal opportunity to get their educational path started.

Students involved in the Passport to College program will have a significantly lower amount of debt than an average college student and will have the campus behind them, supporting their academic goals.

Attending Delta is a stepping-stone for students seeking higher education and the Passport program promotes success.

Many Passport students may be attending Delta just because they have the free tuition or their parents insisted they take advantage of the opportunity.

“I know a lot of kids feel like being at Delta isn’t the best thing, but in the long run … people should consider that Delta is going to be really good for them,” said Garza.

To ensure eligibility Passport students had to attend annual mandatory meetings. Delta pledges to provide each student enrolled in the Passport to College Program with free tuition for two years upon earning a high school diploma or GED.

Passport to College includes students from Stockton, Lodi and Galt areas. Even though this a great opportunity for students to get a free start of college education, Delta wasn’t their first chioce more of a safety net.

“It wasn’t my plan [to attend Delta] until a year ago. This was just my back-up plan,” said Passport student Rachel Taylor.

Eight years after entering the program, Passport families are now reaping the benefits of free tuition and are welcomed to the Delta College campus.