Eastern Gateway Community College announced a new program Monday that will give high school students free tuition.
The Gateway Grant will provide two years of free tuition to graduates of Mahoning Valley high schools who have attained a grade-point-average of 2.5 or higher. The student must have applied for the Pell Grant and use any awarded funds before the Gateway Grant is applied. Students must also attend Eastern Gateway full-time by the fall after graduating.
“The exclamation mark is parents, kids you don’t have to worry about not being able to afford college,” said Eastern Gateway President Dr. Laura Meeks. “If you don’t have the money, you can start here at Eastern Gateway Community College.”
The grant will fund tuition only. Books and other expenses are the responsibility of the student.
Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Niles, was on hand for the announcement and said the grant will open doors for students who otherwise may think they can’t go to college.
“If you have any inclination to get an advanced degree, there will not be a better opportunity to do that because it is a good education and it’s free,” said Ryan. “It’s going to benefit you and your family in the long run.”
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, nearly 50 percent of all college-bound students begin their higher education at a community college. Gia Herrera of Canfield is in her second year at Gateway and said she almost didn’t go to college but decided to give the community college a try because there wasn’t a four-year commitment.
“When I first got here I was nervous, but I got through the first year and I made the Dean’s List both semesters,” said Herrera. “I am proud of myself and have motivation to get a four-year degree after I graduate this year.”
Classes begin at Eastern Gateway Community College Aug. 26.