By Luis E. Castellanos
College of the Desert has implemented its new plEDGE program. The plEDGE program provides 2017 high school graduates (or equivalent) from the Coachella Valley an opportunity to receive one full year of free tuition and full paid fees at College of the Desert. The students that will be able to take part in the program include those of the Palm Springs Unified, Desert Center Unified, Coachella Valley Unified, and Desert Sands Unified School Districts.
As stated on the College of the Desert website, plEDGE removes economic barriers to the first year of college while providing critical guidance, skills and support that are essential to achievement of individual educational and career goals. Research shows that students who enroll full-time, participate in work experience programs and have fewer financial stresses achieve higher grades than their peers, continue their education beyond their first year at a higher rate than typical students, transfer to four-year colleges or are better prepared to enter the local workforce. Dr. Kinnamon first introduced this program during his State of the College to local elected officials, alumni, educational partners, and to the general public.
Katie Chartier, assistant director to the First Year Experience, was able to give us a few words regarding the new plEDGE program. Chartier is also in charge of overseeing the success and management for the plEDGE program. When asked what plEDGE is, Chartier responded by saying, “plEDGE is a new program that will give free tuition to new incoming high school graduates from the Coachella Valley.” Over a thousand students managed to apply and be given the opportunity, according to Chartier, “the number may drop given that students are required to be enrolled in at least 12 units and maintain a 2.0 GPA at College of the Desert throughout both semesters.” The plEDGE program was initially going to be only one year, but was able to reach the Board of Trustees (BOT) at College of the Desert to decide on extending the program to two years for incoming students in 2018. The BOT voted at Friday’s meeting, Sept. 15. For more on the decision visit www.thechaparral.net.
2017 will be the first year this program will be implemented throughout campus. Students given the opportunity will have to keep up with certain requirements those of which include: being a full time student at College of the Desert meaning enrolling in 12 units, submit an application for EDGE and plEDGE online, maintain an overall GPA of a 2.0 throughout the year, participate in at least 10 hours of community service, mentoring or internship, and career preparation. Before students can even be considered the plEDGE, they are required to submit a FAFSA or Dream Act application. College of the Desert was able to receive enough funds to launch the program but will continue to partner with others in order to continue to give future College of the Desert students the opportunity to explore this program for themselves.