PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Each year at the Community College of Philadelphia, hundreds apply, meet the academic standards, get federal financial aid, but it's still not enough and they can't afford to enroll.
Now, CCP is joining what's becoming a nationwide trend and making tuition free to motivated students.
21-year-old Hieu Nguyen wants to attend the Community College of Philadelphia next year. He's got the grades. He will qualify for federal financial aid, but he still can't afford the full cost of tuition and fees.
"That's why this scholarship means so much to me. It basically means that I won't have to pull out big loans and pay back so much money," Nguyen said.
The community college is now offering motivated students like Nguyen a way to pay the full cost of tuition by bridging the gap between what state and federal grants cover and what students still owe.
"We saw an inordinate amount of students not being able to finish their registration or actually start their classes because they couldn't meet the gap between what the financial aid gave them and what they were able to afford and they dropped out," Dr. Guy Generals, CCP President, said.
Tuition and fees run about $5,550 a year.
After financial aid, students usually owe an additional $450 to $500 annually.
College officials estimate about 440 students will qualify to receive that money in the first year of the program.
They must be graduates of Philadelphia high schools and among other requirements enroll full time, maintain a 2.5 Grade Point Average, test at the college level, and get involved in extracurricular activities.
"We are trying to meet the needs of those who have a financial need, but are academically tenacious and willing to be successful," Generals said.
"Apply. Just apply. Don't let anything like money keep you from doing anything you want to do. Pursue what you want and the opportunities will be there, they always are," Nguyen said.
And the time to apply is now.
Students must file their federal student aid form by June 1st.
The college is considering expanding the program in the future to also include the cost of books.
Community College of Philadelphia makes tuition free for motivated students
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