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District 11 expands promise scholarship to give students free ride to college

Posted at 11:02 PM, Sep 13, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs School District 11 is expanding a scholarship program to give graduating seniors the promise of free college.

The D11 Promise Scholarship Program guarantees free tuition and required books to attend Pikes Peak State College for a period of up to three years or 60 credit hours. The program started last year as the Mitchell Promise and was only offered to qualifying seniors at Mitchell High School.

The program is made possible by funding from organizations including the Bruni Foundation, Dakota Foundation, and Legacy Institute to offer scholarships to any eligible D11 senior.

To be eligible students must graduate from a D11 high school or D11 charter school with a 2.5 or better GPA, complete a FASFA and/or Colorado Application for State Financial Aid (CASFA) application, achieve at least 90% attendance records during high school, and enroll at Pikes Peak State College within 18 months of graduation.

Once in the program, scholarship recipients must maintain a 2.0 GPA at PPSC to keep eligibility.

Alyssa Frescaz graduated from Mitchell High School this year and attends Pikes Peak State College for free through the Mitchell Promise Scholarship. She is now pursuing her dream of becoming a lawyer.

"My biological dad didn't even graduate high school, so it was like a huge deal for me to be able to graduate high school and then move on to doing college," she said.

D11 Superintendent Michael Gaal said the district decided to offer the scholarship to all seniors after seeing increased engagement from Mitchell High School students when the Mitchell Promise Scholarship was implemented last year.

During the 2022-2023 school year Mitchell High School was labeled by the Department of Education as a turnaround school, which meant it was among the lowest-performing schools in the state. The high school has since jumped up one rating to Priority Improvement for the 2023-2024 school year.

"I hate to incentivize learning, but we saw students be very responsive to knowing that somebody would pay for their college if they worked hard in high school," said Gaal.

The District said it and Pikes Peak State College are seeking permanent funding for the program during the initial period of the D11 Promise Program.
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