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Free Tuition With the Los Rios Promise Program

We want to remove financial barriers, so all students are able to pursue higher education. There is no income requirement for the Los Rios Promise Program.

Due to a reduction in state funding for 2022-23, the Los Rios Promise Program waiver will be awarded on a tier system. Student eligibility is based on funding availability.

What is the Los Rios Promise Program?

The Los Rios Promise Program covers the cost of tuition for eligible students, up to 15 units. You may also hear it referred to as California Promise or AB-19 (Assembly Bill 19) and AB-2 (Assembly Bill 2).

Costs Covered

The Promise Program covers:

  • Tuition fees (the cost of your classes) for up to 15 units, at $46 per unit

Costs Not Covered

The Promise Program does not cover:

  • Health Services fee
  • Student Representation fee
  • Books
  • Transportation
  • Living expenses

Eligibility Requirements

First-time college students who are California residents (learn about residency requirements), complete a CCCApply application for enrollment to a Los Rios college, and complete a Financial Aid application – either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) – are eligible for the Los Rios Promise Program.

The applications must be completed and processed by the deadline listed under Tier 1 or Tier 2 on this page. You will receive an email from CCCApply and Department of Education (if you submitted a FAFSA) or California Student Aid Commission (if you submitted a CADAA) once your application has been processed. Please plan accordingly and complete the applications at least three weeks before the deadlines.

Second-year eligibility is reviewed for all Los Rios Promise Program students who received their first year free under this program and is contingent upon program funding.

Defining "First-Time" Students

Students entering college directly from high school, students who attended adult school to complete their high school graduation requirements, or students who have never attempted college units are considered "first-time" students.

Am I still a first-time student if I earned college credit while in high school or while attending adult school to complete my high school education?

Yes! College credit earned while in high school (Advanced Education) or adult school does not affect your eligibility for the Los Rios Promise Program as long as you haven't yet earned a degree or certificate. However, students who earn a college certificate or degree while in high school would not be eligible for this tuition waiver.

How to Get Los Rios Promise Program Funds

  1. Submit (and receive confirmation of process) a CCCApply application for the term for which you are applying and the 2022-2023 FAFSA or 2022-2023 CADAA by dates listed in Tier 1 or Tier 2.
  2. Complete the Los Rios Promise Program Commitment Contract by the dates listed in Tier 1 or Tier 2. New, first-time students will receive a notification in their eServices Message Center regarding how to complete the commitment contract.
  3. Enroll in 12 or more units by the dates listed in Tier 1 or Tier 2. No more than 15 units will be covered.
    1. To use Los Rios Promise funds to pay for your summer tuition fees, you must enroll in 12 or more units for the summer term by the dates listed in Tier 1 or Tier 2. No more than 15 units will be covered.
  4. Complete each semester with a minimum 2.0 GPA and a 66.67% completion rate.

Tier System

The following applies only to the Fall 2022 semester. Criteria and deadlines for Spring 2023 will be posted by August 1, 2022.

Tier 1

Student eligibility is based on funding availability.

  1. Submit (and receive confirmation of processing) the CCCApply application for the term for which you are applying and the 2022-2023 FAFSA/CADAA by April 1, 2022.
  2. Complete the Los Rios Promise Program Commitment Contract by August 1, 2022.
  3. Enroll in 12 or more units by the semester deadline
    • Fall 2022: September 6, 2022
    • Spring 2023: January 30, 2023

If you don't complete the FAFSA/CADAA by April 1, 2022, then you may still be considered for Tier 2.

Tier 2

Student eligibility is based on funding availability.

  1. Submit (and receive confirmation of processing) the CCCApply application for the term for which you are applying and the 2022-2023 FAFSA/CADAA by June 1, 2022.
  2. Complete the Los Rios Promise Program Commitment Contract by August 1, 2022.
  3. Enroll in 12 or more units by the semester deadline
    • Fall 2022: September 6, 2022
    • Spring 2023: January 30, 2023

Eligibility Requirements for Second Year of Los Rios Promise Program

The second year of eligibility for the 2022-2023 academic year is reviewed for all students who received the waiver in their first year under the Los Rios Promise Program. Second-year eligibility is contingent upon funding. Second-year students will automatically be awarded if they:

  • Submit the FAFSA/CADAA
  • Maintain full-time enrollment (12 units required, 15 recommended)
  • Maintain a 2.0 GPA, with a 66.67% completion rate

Eligibility for Mid-Year, First-Time New, and Second Year Recipients

Students are only eligible for the Los Rios Promise Program for two award years beginning with their initial enrollment in the summer/fall term. Students whose first enrollment is the spring term will only be eligible for 1.5 years (not the full two years), provided that they meet the enrollment and FAFSA completion deadline.

To apply for the Los Rios Promise Program for a second year, students must complete a new FAFSA/CADAA and be enrolled in 12 or more units on the enrollment deadline. Students who are transferring in from another California community college must contact the Financial Aid office. Students transferring from a college or university outside of California are not eligible for the Los Rios Promise Program.

Promise Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I qualify and maintain eligibility for the Los Rios Promise Program?

The Los Rios Promise Program is first-come first-served based on funding availability. First-time college students who are California residents and who complete the CCC Apply application, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) by the deadline are eligible for the Los Rios Promise Program. Students must enroll in 12 units and complete 66.67% of their units with a 2.0 GPA each semester. Students are required to submit a commitment contract once for the entire time they are a Los Rios Promise Program student.

If a first-time college student starts in the summer, but enrolls in less than 12 units, does this disqualify them for the remainder of their first two years free?

No, students who enrolled in less than 12 units in summer do not disqualify themselves for the Promise Program in the primary terms (fall and spring).

If I lose eligibility for a term, can I regain it in the following term?

If you lose eligibility due to your academic progress for a fall or spring term, you are no longer eligible.

Are all Los Rios Promise Program recipients required to follow the tiered requirements?

No. Only students receiving the Promise Program for the first time for fall 2022 are required to follow the Tier 1/Tier 2 requirements.

Does the commitment contract need to be completed each semester or each academic year?

The commitment contract is only required once for the entire time the student is a Los Rios Promise Program student. Please note, only students receiving the Promise Program for the first time beginning with fall 2022 are required to complete the commitment contract.

Where do I find a copy of the commitment contract?

Student can view their accepted commitment contract under Completed Tasks.

Is there an age limit for the start of a student’s first year?

A student could be considered a first-time college student at any age. However, they must meet the first-time college student definition.

How are mid-year high school graduates, who begin college enrollment in the spring handled, in regard to free tuition?

The student may receive the Los Rios Promise Program only during two award years. Therefore, the student could attend for spring of the first award year, and then only for summer, fall and spring of the second award year.

If a student completely withdraws or drops down to less than full-time attendance (12 units), do they need to repay the grant/fee waiver? Can they regain eligibility in the program?

Students do not need to repay the grant/fee waiver if they drop below full-time. However, students receiving the Los Rios Promise for the first time in fall 2022 who drop all coursework or drop below full-time will lose eligibility going forward.

Does attending adult education classes affect the first-time definition?

Adult education enrollment does not affect a student’s classification as a first-time college student.

Must Los Rios Promise Program fee waiver recipients have attended high school within the college’s service area?

No, fees may be covered for students who attended high school outside of the college service area.

Is the second year of the Los Rios Promise Program fee waiver for any full-time students?

No. Second year fees can only be paid for students who were first-time students the year before and who were full-time for all primary terms of the prior year and received the Los Rios Promise Program waiver during their first year.

The news media continues to describe the Los Rios Promise Program as “free college” for first-time, full-time community college students. Is this label accurate?

The actual provisions of the program have not been fully described in media coverage. The law allows districts to decide what is best for their students. Los Rios has opted to award on a first-come, first-served basis based on available funding.

Must a student enroll in 12 units or more for every term they attend to receive a waiver of fees?

Generally, 12 units are required. Section 76396.3(c)(1) of the California Education Code states:

“For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings: 'Full time' means 12 or more semester units or the equivalent."

To be eligible for a fee waiver, a student must enroll in 12 units during the summer term.

However, to maintain continuing eligibility in the program, a student must only enroll as a full-time student in primary terms (fall and spring). If a student enrolls in less than 12 units in summer, or if the student does not enroll in any summer units, the student does not lose eligibility to continue participation in the following fall term.

What is the full-time equivalent for DSPS students?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Government Code section 11135, prohibit discrimination in programs that receive state funding. DSPS students whose Academic Accommodation Plan (AAP) permits them to take less than 12 units should be considered full-time for eligibility under the College Promise.