Lake Tahoe Community College expands program to assist students in earning debt-free degree |

Lake Tahoe Community College expands program to assist students in earning debt-free degree

Lake Tahoe Community College offers evening child care.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Students heading to Lake Tahoe Community College this fall can earn a debt-free degree after the foundation board recently voted to expand the free tuition program from one to three years.

With the free program, called the Lake Tahoe College Promise, it is now possible for first-time, full-time eligible students to earn a degree without paying tuition starting this fall.

When LTCC’s promise program first launched in the fall 2018 it delivered one year of free tuition, matching the state’s pilot California Promise program.

With this new expansion, LTCC goes beyond what the state provides by offering three years of free tuition, free bus transportation throughout the South Shore, a $100 bookstore credit each quarter, priority access to LTCC’s free textbook lending library and an array of free support services that aim to help students graduate with a college degree within three years, according to the college.

“While a free year of college was a good deal, we recognized how powerful it could be for our community to move to a three-year promise program,” LTCC Foundation Board President Bob Novasel said in a press release. “That’s enough time to actually earn a college degree, and having that in-hand hugely expands your opportunities over the course of your life. That’s a real gamechanger.”

Since former Gov. Jerry Brown signed off on Assembly Bill 19 in 2017, paving the way for a tuition-free year of community college for all California residents, LTCC has considered expanding the program.

Thanks to an anonymous donation, LTCC was able to expand the program to Nevada residents in the Tahoe Basin for the 2018-19 school year, which made LTCC the only college in the country with a bi-state promise program providing free tuition to all members of the community, regardless of where the border lies.

In April, LTCC won a competitive grant that further expanded its promise program, adding free services and above-and-beyond support to improve student success.

The Promise Scholars Program grant will deliver $150,000 and resources, trainings, and expertise to the college.

“With this grant, last year’s Nevada-side expansion, and now the commitment from our foundation for a three-year promise program, LTCC is truly doing all it can to help as many of our local high school grads and first-time adult learners earn a college degree tuition free, with other financial supports in place,” said LTCC Superintendent/President Jeff DeFranco. “Our promise program started as a way to improve access to education. With our revised program, the focus shifts toward degree completion. We are committed to improving degree completion rates on campus because there is such a significant advantage to having a college degree — it can improve your earnings quickly, and for the remainder of your career. We want our community members to experience upward mobility and a better life, and a college degree absolutely can pave the way for that. Our promise program has become one of the model programs for the state because of this crucial shift.”

LTCC’s promise program is for any and all first-time college students, including those who earned college credits while in high school.

To be eligible, students must be enrolled in and complete at least 12 or more units each quarter for up to three academic quarters, for a maximum of three years or until degree completion, whichever happens first.

LTCC strongly advises students to earn at least 15 units per quarter to ensure they graduate with a degree within three years.

The program is open to all California residents, all California Dreamer students who are eligible through AB540, and Nevada residents or dreamers living in particular zip codes within the Tahoe Basin.

A full list of eligibility requirements is available online at

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