By Austin Herbaugh
The Cuesta Promise has been extended to a full year of free tuition, Cuesta College President Gil Stork announced at the Oct. 3 Board of Trustees meeting.
“For the current group enrolled this fall, they came in with the expectation that they have a semester paid for,” Stork said. “But we are now in a position where we can extend that to two semesters.”
The Cuesta promise started as an $8,000,000 donation by the Charles and Leeta Dovica Family Trust last year. The scholarship paid for the first semester of tuition and general fees for SLO county high school graduates. Now it pays for a full year. Current seniors in local high schools will soon know that their first year of college will be paid for if they choose Cuesta.
The Cuesta Promise is indefinite because the $8 million donation was endowed, which means that it’s put in an account that accumulates interest. The interest earned is $300,000 per year, and only the interest is being spent. This way the $8,000,000 is never touched, meaning that it will be there forever.
“Our projections show that the income will continually support the annual cost,” said Stork. “If you stay here and get married, this will be here for your children, and your grandchildren. I have two grandchildren in San Luis Obispo and I know that the promise will be here for them if they choose to come to Cuesta.”
There is enough money to extend the Cuesta Promise to a full year because most recipients also get financial aid or other scholarships. According to Stork, 60% of college freshman from local high schools also qualified for other financial aid, such as the Board of Governors Fee Waiver. In this case, the Cuesta Promise pays the remaining fees.
Stork said that the promise pays “universal fees” meaning that it’ll pay for things that all Cuesta students must pay like tuition or the student health fee. Fees such as parking or textbooks are not covered by the Cuesta Promise because these costs vary among different students.
According to Stork, the Cuesta Promise is open to change in the case that funding increases. If more money becomes available, more local students will qualify for the Promise, such as first time college students coming back from serving in the military or returning from missionary trips for their church.
Stork feels confident that the Promise is here to stay.
“This is a gift that we can offer for this generation and the next generation,” Stork said.