Money is no object: Promise scholarship gives students debt-free start on life

Considering college, some high school graduates give up before even starting.

Dobie High School senior Christian Reyes hadn’t given up, but he had plenty of reasons to. COVID-19 was causing global uncertainty. He didn’t want to pressure family to foot his school bill. And most of all, he wanted to avoid student loans.

Christian Reyes
Christian Reyes

That’s why Reyes pivoted his college plans after learning about the Promise @ San Jac scholarship in early 2020.

“San Jacinto College wasn’t my only choice,” he said. “I could have gone to a four-year college, but then I would have been stuck with student debt.”

Thanks to Promise, Reyes graduates this fall with a process technology Associate of Applied Science degree -- no debt, no sweat.

Your bill: $0

Promise @ San Jac is a last-dollar scholarship covering 100 percent of tuition and books after federal and state aid, grants, and other scholarships.

Although it started in fall 2020 with graduates of three Pasadena ISD high schools, Promise is expanding to every in-district high school senior beginning with the class of 2021-2022. MacKenzie Scott’s $30 million donation to the College last spring is helping to fund a student success endowment that makes this expansion possible.

The scholarship promises no student debt and is available to all seniors at participating high schools, regardless of their GPA. Another perk: A certificate or degree offers better career opportunities and income potential than a high school diploma alone.

Keyla Guerrero
Keyla Guerrero

Current Promise scholar Keyla Guerrero urged her younger brother not to miss out on college, especially with up to three years of paid-for education and a Promise success coach for priority registration and one-on-one help. Thanks to her encouragement, he is applying for the scholarship and plans to attend San Jac this fall.

“It’s a really good program,” Guerrero said. “I recommend it, especially with the amount of resources they offer and how often they reach out to you.”

Like Reyes, Guerrero planned to start at a university, but she opted to stay home and keep money in her pocket. With an Associate of Science in natural science, she can transfer for a bachelor’s degree in biology, then get her high school teacher certification.

“I didn’t want to pass up two free years,” she said. “It’s easy to transfer. I didn’t see any downsides.”

Unexpected doors

The Promise scholarship opens many doors -- some that students weren’t even expecting.

Bianca Compean
Bianca Compean

At first, Reyes pursued process technology at his parents’ suggestion. Now he embraces that decision. With most classes at the LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy, & Technology, he gets hands-on training in high-tech labs. Plus, his associate degree can lead to a well-paid job at a local refinery -- a good back-up plan and way to fund a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

“This career path helps to support my college path,” he said.

Because of limited finances, Bianca Compean, a South Houston High School graduate, planned to attend San Jac part time, but through Promise, she is reaching her goals faster as a full-time student.

Along the way, Compean even switched to the diagnostic medical sonography program because of her own experience with a pre-surgery ultrasound years ago. Thanks to this “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity, she is getting quality training at no cost.

“I wanted to be a sonographer at heart,” she said. “After graduating from San Jac, I am hoping to get hired on in the medical field.”

No debt, no sweat
Give the gift of a bright future

Help current and future Promise scholars by participating in the College's “Step Brightly into the Future” gala Friday, May 20, 2022. The event will benefit a student success endowment for Promise scholarships.

Learn more: visit sanjac.edu/gala or contact the San Jacinto College Foundation at 281-998-6104.

Although the Promise pledge deadline has already passed for current high school seniors, the scholarship will be open to future graduating classes.

For Reyes, Promise means he can laser-focus on classes since money is no object. For those on the fence about attending San Jac through Promise, he has two words: “Do it!”

“This is free money to pay for your college for up to three years,” he said. “You can save your money to buy something else or pay for a bachelor’s degree.”

Learn more at sanjac.edu/promise.