PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – High school seniors are just a few months shy of the big question: “What do I do after graduation?” While many hope to go off to college, it’s not always possible due to financial constraints. But the Gulf Coast State College Foundation is working to get rid of the money struggles standing between students and their education.
“I’ve seen what a little bit of money at the right time at the right place can do to change someone’s life. It can be as little as $50 or $100,” Gulf Coast State College Foundation Advisor Bill Cramer said.
But, incoming students at Gulf Coast State College are about to receive much more.
On Wednesday, the Gulf Coast State College Foundation and GCSC announced the establishment of “The Gulf Coast Guarantee,” which looks to give students $700 a semester across four semesters.
“This is one of the best days as a college president ever. This is one of the best days in the history of college. This is where our promise to the communities we serve comes true. This is where we’re guaranteeing that a student coming out of high school from this semester forward won’t have to worry about how to pay for a big chunk of their college education,” Gulf Coast State College President Dr. John Holdnak said.
The Gulf Coast Guarantee is a no-questions-asked program for all Bay, Gulf, and Franklin County students admitted to GCSC.
Typically, financial aid is decided after filling out forms and applications to see how much money you’re eligible for. But this is a first-dollar program, which means incoming students get this money automatically. The only requirements are that you’re a first-time and full-time college student pursuing a degree, who graduated from high school that same year.
The renewal criteria will be evaluated yearly after the spring semester. Students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or greater and must pass a full-time course load of 24 credit hours a year.
“Can you imagine the impact this is going to have on the graduating seniors right now and their futures to come,” Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt said.
School leaders estimate student enrollment to go up 30% in the first year, which is an extra 150 students at Gulf Coast who might not have gone to college otherwise.
“A real hope and a hand up not a hand out to those students who need some help,” Dr. Holdnak said.
And a helping hand is what school leaders said they’ll continue working to be.
The Gulf Coast Guarantee will start with the fall of 2021 freshman class.
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