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Free College for First Generation College Students Still in High School
Early College Promise covers costs for first two years
June 06, 2017 - June 20, 2017

Foothill College has announced the creation of its Early College Promise, a program offering free college to high school students who will be the first generation in their family to attend college. The program is aimed primarily at high school students who participate in AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) a college and career readiness program at four local high schools.

The Early College Promise is believed to be the first college promise program of its kind in the state solely aimed at high school students. It covers the costs of students’ tuition, fees, textbooks, instructional materials, and public transportation, and makes it possible for eligible students to complete the first two years of college for free while still in high school.

The model for Foothill’s Early College Promise program is built upon national research showing that early college pathways created by dual enrollment in high school and college increase the rates at which underrepresented students enter and succeed in college.

"Foothill College is nationally recognized  for its academic programs, and we want to make our programs available to AVID students, many of whom are the first generation in their family to attend college,” says Foothill College President Thuy Nguyen. Added Sandy Husk, CEO of AVID, “We applaud the leadership of Foothill College who are implementing this pathway for AVID students.”

Created to give high school students a successful and debt-free head start in college, Foothill’s Early College Promise is currently accepting applications from students enrolled in AVID programs at Los Altos High School, Mountain View High School, and Palo Alto High School, and all students enrolled at Alta Vista High School. An orientation for interested families will be held on Tuesday, June 20 at 6:00 p.m. in room 8330 at Foothill College. 

AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. It is a national non-profit organization that serves students who are historically underrepresented in four-year colleges and universities, including ethnic minority, low income, and first generation college students as well students who have special circumstances in their lives. AVID has demonstrated success in preparing high school students to graduate from high school, attend college, and succeed in college.

"Foothill’s Early College Promise program removes the economic barriers that often prevent students from receiving their college degree and achieving their highest potential. This new program paves the road to more degrees and bright futures," says Dr. Jeff Harding, Superintendent of the Mountain View Los Altos High School District.

Students who wish to participate in Early College Promise may start the program this summer by enrolling at Foothill College in Counseling 5 (CNSL 5), Introduction to College. Students may also enroll in other general education courses starting this summer.

The Early College Promise is being underwritten by a combination of private donations and state funding. The college is currently offering the Early College Promise to approximately 750 AVID students at four local high schools but hopes to expand the program to include more high school students.

“As a school district, we commend Foothill College’s Early College Promise. Their efforts to reach and support all students on their quest to obtaining their higher education goals aligns with our vision and district goals and we are eager to support this collaborative endeavor,” says Dr. Glenn “Max” McGee, Superintendent of the Palo Alto Unified High School District (PAUSD). “In PAUSD, equity and access for all students is part of the work that we do every day in offering our students a high-quality education. We are excited to partner with Foothill College as we work together to provide another pathway to college for our historically underrepresented students.”

The college will hold a formal Early College Promise launch event in September with Dr. Martha Kanter, executive director of the national College Promise Campaign, former U.S. under secretary of education under President Obama, and former chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.

For more information on the program, please visit the Early College Promise website at

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