Passport program reaches end for Delta students

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Passport to College, a program that has paid the tuition of numerous Delta College students since 2014 is coming to an end.

The program began in 2006 targeting over 12,000 fifth graders in 17 different school districts.

Of those students, nearly 1,200 eventually enrolled at Delta College.

“Basically, it was an offer that they chose to accept if they met the requirements up to senior year of high school,” said Marie Williams, administrative assistant for the Passport to College Program at Delta College.

These requirements, Williams said, included attending presentations by Delta students and staff, as well as field trips to the Delta College campus.

Participants in the Passport to College Program were also required to attend workshops throughout middle and high school aimed at better preparing them for college.

Parents of participating students were required to attend meetings as well.

Upon graduating from high school, these students were eligible for free tuition — up to 60 units, or two years’ worth of credits at Delta.

The 60 units had to be completed within three years of continuous enrollment.

Units from failed and dropped classes were counted toward the mandated maximum in an effort to insure that students were taking their academic goals seriously.

According to Williams, the program was set to expire after the Fall 2016 semester, however, students who were in the program and hadn’t completed 60 units were still eligible to receive free tuition for the Spring 2017 semester.

Funding for the Passport to College Program was made possible by a $2.25 million loan agreement to the Delta College Foundation, approved by Delta’s Board of Trustees in October 2012.

The goal of the Passport to College Program was to increase the number of college students in the San Joaquin County area by targeting students at a young age and reinforcing the importance of higher education.

Williams, who has been involved with Delta’s Passport to College Program since its inception, said that it’s special to see students she met as elementary school students now coming to Delta, but noted that many students who pledged to participate didn’t follow through on the commitment, either dropping out or relocating to a location out of the district.

Staying in the program, however, can lead to success.

“Our commencement speaker last year was in the Passport Program,” said Williams, referring to Megan Maxey, a former Collegian editor from Galt who served last fall as news editor of The Daily Titan, the school newspaper at Cal State University, Fullerton.

At the moment, there are no plans to renew or replace the Passport to College Program at Delta College.

With the Passport to College Program coming to an end, some students are unsure how they will pay for the rest of their time at Delta.

“It’s been a big help, you know?” said Tony Hunter, a student who is in the program and plans on transferring to Chico State. “I’m almost there, but I barely cover my books, so now I have to start thinking about next semester. Maybe work this summer to cover classes.”