HCC Scholarship Program Provides Access to College for Houston-Area Students
Houston, TX – August 12, 2008 – Houston Community College announced a bold new scholarship program entitled Opportunity 14 at a press conference held Tuesday, August 12 at Houston Independent School District’s Lee High School. HISD Superintendent Abe Saavedra and Texas State Representative Dr. Alma Allen joined community and educational leaders at the event, which marked a milestone in educational access for all Houstonians.
The Houston Community College Foundation has established Opportunity 14 to send the message to Houstonians that we must change our expectations about the minimum amount of education required for our children. Every child in this city must obtain at least 14 years of education: 12 plus two years of college. The Opportunity 14 Scholarship will help young people meet these higher expectations by providing financial assistance for tuition, fees and books to HCC for every student who qualifies.
“Opportunity 14 is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when a community comes together and commits to solving a problem. Opportunity 14 Scholarships are not paid for with tax revenues—they are completely funded by the generosity of private donors and foundations that have recognized a need and decided to do something about it. Out of their commitment to this city and its people, they have made Opportunity 14 a reality. I would like to thank them personally, and on behalf of the HCC Foundation and Houston Community College,” says Dr. Mary S. Spangler, HCC chancellor.
Flagship supporters for Opportunity 14 include the following donors for the 2008-2009 school year: The Cullen Foundation, Kinder Foundation, Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, Harriet & Joe Foster Foundation, Scurlock Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, The Hoglund Foundation, Strake Foundation and Ray C. Fish Foundation. Together, these gifts amount to more than $1 million in scholarship funding for Houston’s low-income students.
The program aims to boost Houston’s economic development potential by helping to provide a skilled work force with the higher earning potential conferred by a two-year college degree. People who earn a two-year degree from a community college make, on average, $577,000 more during their careers than people with only a high school diploma, as cited in a May 2008 study on “The Economic Contribution of Houston Community College.” The report notes that graduates contribute millions of dollars more to our tax base, and as a result of their two years of higher education, save Texans millions of dollars in health care costs and costs associated with welfare, unemployment and crime. Their contribution to the area’s overall level of higher education helps to keep Houston an attractive prospect for companies seeking to relocate.
On a more sobering note, Texas’ “Closing the Gaps” initiative estimates that if Texas’ college participation rates remain low, the state’s poverty rate will increase, and the average Texas income will decline by $3,000 by the year 2030.
As tuition and fees continue to soar at four-year universities, Houston Community College remains one of the best higher educational values in the city. Tuition is about 75 percent less than that at public universities.
Students can complete an associate degree in two years and transfer to any Texas public university. Or they can enroll in one of HCC’s many exemplary workforce programs to receive hands-on career training in fields such as automotive mechanics, computer science, cosmetology, culinary arts and nursing.
"Opportunity 14 not only offers students financial assistance, it demonstrates to parents that finances should not become obstacles to their dreams and goals of creating a better future for their children. I strongly encourage parents to join their children as they apply for college, and apply for Opportunity 14 and make HCC the first two years of their four-year degree. Opportunity 14 scholarships offer assistance not only for tuition, and fees, but also books. This tremendous opportunity should not be overlooked," says HCC Board Chair Yolanda Navarro Flores.
Students attending HCC full-time may be eligible to receive up to $3,000 per year from Opportunity 14—a maximum of $1,500 per long semester and $1,000 for summer classes. This is enough to pay for most students’ full-time HCC tuition, fees, and books. The amount of scholarship awarded will vary according to the amount of federal and state grants received. Opportunity 14 has a maximum payout of $6,000 over three years per qualified student.
To be eligible for Opportunity 14 support, students must live in HCC’s service area. This includes all HISD students and students from the Alief, Fort Bend, Katy, North Forest, and Spring Branch Independent School Districts and the Stafford Municipal School District. Students also must have graduated from high school within one year of enrollment at HCC or have earned their GED within the past year and be under the age of 20.
Included among HCC’s first Opportunity 14 scholarship recipients is Marina Reid, 18, a Stratford High School graduate who will be attending classes close to home at the HCC Northwest campus in Katy this fall. Reid, who is planning to pursue a career in criminal justice, says the support she received from Opportunity 14 has made a big difference in her ability to attend college. “I was thrilled to learn that I received this scholarship. Opportunity 14 will help me to achieve my career goals and ambitions.”
As many as 1,500 students may qualify in the 2008-2009 school year; ultimately, the program aims to assist as many as 6,000 students on an annual basis. To help achieve this goal, the HCC Foundation has launched an aggressive $30 million endowment campaign.
“The promise of two years of higher education for Houston’s young people must continue for generations to come. The HCC Foundation is committed to securing annual support of this scholarship program and to establishing and funding an endowment that will provide Opportunity 14 scholarships in perpetuity,” says Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga, Executive Director of the HCC Foundation.
To learn more, including information regarding eligibility requirements, visit www.opportunity14.org.