Following up on the program’s popularity last semester, College of the Canyons is accepting 500 additional students for its First-Year Promise program for the upcoming fall semester. Launched in fall 2017, the First-Year Promise Program gives first-year, full-time students the opportunity to attend COC tuition-free and fee-free during their first year. The program began at COC when the college was awarded a grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, COC Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook said. The $750,000 grant allowed the college to offer the First-Year Promise Program to more than 250 students last year. This year’s program expansion was made possible by funding from a new state program called California College Promise, a college spokesperson said. Signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, the promise will be funded for the first time in the 2018-19 state budget with $898,434 allocated to College of the Canyons. The school is ready for this moment, Van Hook said on Friday, as she explained how the campus has been preparing for the announcement. “This is an incredible opportunity that increases access to higher education and changes lives,” Van Hook said. “I urge all potential first-time students to give this serious consideration – and to apply as soon as possible.” The newly created program lays the groundwork for the state’s community colleges to increase access and student success by increasing the number of degrees and certificates awarded, and helping students secure gainful employment, a COC spokesperson said. The First-Year Promise Plus program will accept students on a first-come, first-served basis starting Monday, July 16, and the application period will close Monday, July 30, or when the 500-student limit is reached, according to officials. To be eligible for First-Year Promise Plus, students must enroll in at least 12 units of classes in both fall 2018 and spring 2019, college officials said. The program will cover the cost for up to 15 units per semester, and provide students access to coaches, mentors, counselors and college personnel dedicated to their academic success. The combination of services is designed to propel students forward to achieve their academic goals, while potentially saving them $1,380 in tuition, officials said. To remain in the program, students must maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average, but tutoring will be available in a variety of subjects to help those who are struggling. Students who have questions or need help with the application process are encouraged to attend the First-Year Promise Plus Information Day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 18, at the Canyons Hall Welcome Center. Support is available at [email protected] or 661-362-5891 for those who are unable to attend, according to the COC website. The online application, additional information and eligibility requirements are also available at www.canyons.edu/promise.