Meghan Paquette, director, Early College and Workforce Promise
programs at Yavapai College, coordinates two special programs that
involve tuition-free classes and degrees for qualified students.
(Photo courtesy Yavapai College)
Yavapai College (YC) has expanded a financial aid program to let students earn a tuition-free degree from among 16 two-year associate degree programs.
Director of Early College and Promise Programs Meghan Paquette said tuition reimbursement will be based on tuition a student would spend during the two years required to earn a specific degree.
Reimbursement will occur after the student earns the degree in the requisite time. The reimbursement does not cover other education expenses such as room, board or books and educational supplies.
“Students can apply for scholarships to cover some of those expenses,” Paquette said. “We are pleased to expand what we’ve called Workforce Promise into its fourth year. The college board gave us $500,000 for this year. We have expanded the student cohort to an anticipated 300 students who enrolled in specific degree programs.”
She said the initial year the program was offered, it attracted around 100 students; the second, 120; and the third year, more than 200.
“Students must apply and qualify. Tuition reimbursement is not automatic. It only occurs if students meet the specified timeline,” Paquette said. “Reimbursement also does not cover expenses for transfer classes taken from another institution.”
Tuition rates are set each year. This coming year, tuition is about $1,500 a semester or $3,000 for the school year.
Faculty are aware of the high cost of textbooks and other education resources, so they have introduced what is called Open Educational Resources.
“When possible, faculty opted for online textbooks. Sometimes this involved free textbooks and other resources. We promote options to make the programs as affordable as possible for the students. Students can apply for grants to buy texts,” Paquette said.
Paquette said the college is pleased that countywide, students are taking advantage of the Workforce Promise program. About one-third the students enroll from the Verde Valley and the other two-thirds come from the Quad Cities area. Many are first-generation college students who enroll in degree programs that lead to good jobs and good salaries.
YC Partnering with PUSD on Tuition Free Pilot Program
Paquette also administers a new program in cooperation with Prescott Unified School District called Early College, in which 18 carefully selected high school seniors are spending their final year of high school in the YC campus classes Monday through Thursdays between 8:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
All have 3.5 or higher-grade point averages and are enrolled at YC.
Similar to the Workforce Promise program, these students pay no tuition. Instead, the school district is reimbursed for the students through a grant from the state. PUSD then will pay for tuition.
Paquette said the program was initiated through cooperative efforts among Prescott High School Principal Adam Neely, PHS academic adviser Molly Orr and YC officials.
PUSD Superintendent Joe Howard praised Early College as “…a natural partnership with YC. We patterned it after the Vail High School-Pima Community College model. However, we focus more on actual on-campus college life. PUSD staff member Molly Orr will be the ‘go-to’ for those kids, conducting many seminars and training sessions that will model college life.”
Howard said PUSD personnel continue exploring other opportunities to introduce local students to educational opportunities that will benefit them, their parents, families and the community.
More information is available by contacting Paquette at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 928.776.2029.