Tulsa Achieves Provides Students Path to College
By CHRISTOPHER DAVIS
For high school seniors in Tulsa County, January marks the official beginning of application season for Tulsa Community College. Fortunately, through TCC’s Tulsa Achieves Program, area students are given an opportunity to lessen the financial burden of college.
Tulsa Achieves (TA), established in 2007, was created to assist students who may not be able to afford college and has become a model for similar programs across the country. As seniors prepare for the home stretch, it is important they take action now in order to secure their future in college.
Victoria Richmond remembers facing the reality of steep college costs during her senior year of high school. After comparing the cost of moving and out-of-state tuition, she decided to begin her studies at . “Without Tulsa Achieves, I don’t know how I would have paid for college,” she says. Majoring in journalism, Richmond is one of thousands of students to enter the Tulsa Achieves program immediately after graduating high school.
The program provides gap funding for college, paying any tuition and fees that federal or state grants do not cover. If students are not eligible for grants, then TA will cover 100 percent of the their tuition and fees. This deal continues for up to three consecutive academic years or 63 college credit hours.
“The tuition assistance has definitely allowed me to save up for the next step of my education,” says Richmond, who plans to transfer to the University of Kansas in the fall.
Aside from providing funds for tuition, the program ensures that students have the best opportunity at success by requiring participants to volunteer in the community, visit with advisors and complete a college strategies course designed to prepare them for the challenges of higher education.
To be eligible for the Tulsa Achieves program, students must graduate high school with at least a 2.0 and be a resident of Tulsa County. Additionally, there are a series of admissions steps that students must complete in order be approved for the program.
The first two steps for Tulsa Achieves hopefuls involve applying for admission to Tulsa Community College and federal financial aid. Students can apply for admission to via the college’s website, www.tulsacc.edu. For most students, the admissions application takes about 20 minutes.
For federal financial aid, students should visit www.fafsa.gov. By completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or, FAFSA, as it is commonly called), students are asking the government for financial assistance for college tuition and expenses. It is important to read each question carefully, as there are a few questions related to family income. Students and parents should be prepared to provide basic tax information.
Students and families should remember several things in order to make the application process less stressful. The first is to begin the process early – applications become available in January. This ensures the student will have plenty of time to address any mistakes or confusion that arises. Another tip is to be sure the student has an email address that can be checked easily and frequently.
For students who encounter confusion, frustration and challenges with technology, assistance is available on campus and through the school’s online resources. The Educational Opportunity Center also provides free assistance to low-income and first-generation college students and offers walk-in financial aid workshops.
Advisement offices on each campus provide one-on-one sessions to address questions about enrollment and degrees. Often, academic advisors are the most helpful and knowledgeable people available to students. In fact, Tulsa Achieves requires students to meet with an advisor before enrollment each semester.