Program offers free college tuition

Friday, February 15th 2008, 4:51 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

Nayeli Desantiago studies business at Oklahoma City Community College. And her time spent at school has only cost just that, her time.

"I was in high school and I really didn't plan to go to college, because one of the big barriers that students have for going to college is money, so that was one of my problems not going to college," Desantiago said.

But, she heard about OKC-go, the program that sends a number of Oklahoma kids to OCCC for free, and she jumped at the chance.

"Let's see, four classes is about $1,000 so that's almost $4,000 that they paid for me," Desantiago said. "That's big money."

"Well, I think that's what makes the difference," OCCC President Paul Sechrist said. "When people think about college they often think it's too costly for them to attend and they might as well just not even think about it and just go on to work."

OKC-go applies to students in the Oklahoma City Public School district, and the college just expanded to also include Western Heights.

To get into this college classroom for free, the kids have had to have graduated high school from either of those districts, applied for financial assistance. Once attending the school, students must to do well academically and participate in community service as well.

"When you remove that financial barrier of thinking to go to college, they think, ‘Well, maybe I can'," Sechrist said. "And, that maybe turns into, ‘Well, I'll give it a try.' And then when they get here and can be successful, it changes their life."

So far, 2,600 students have taken advantage of the program, and now OCCC is hoping more students like Desantiago will apply since they've expanded eligibility.

"If I hadn't had this program, I wouldn't have gone to college," Desantiago said. "Thanks to this program, I'm here."