Community Column: Working to help students succeed

October 1, 2019

Dr. Robert Garza

For decades, Palo Alto College has made efforts to ensure all students have the ability to continue their education by eliminating different obstacles that might prevent students from earning their degree. Financial obligations often force students to make a choice between paying tuition and paying for life's necessities; scholarships can fill the gap and keep students enrolled.

Palo Alto College offers 42 college-specific scholarships and a multitude of scholarships that can be awarded to students across the Alamo Colleges District. In 2018-2019, Palo Alto College awarded approximately $360,000 in scholarships to support students pursuing their education.

With over 70% of our students requiring some form of financial aid each semester, we know the importance of providing financial support. For the last decade, our annual scholarship fundraiser, ¡Celebración!, has allowed us to increase our scholarship endowment fund and receive dollar-to-dollar matching funds from two U.S. Department of Education grants, which directly support our students' academic success.

Educational partners are imperative to ensuring our community's educational journey continues beyond Palo Alto College. In 2018, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) committed over $1.1 million in scholarship dollars to guarantee five full-ride scholarships for currently enrolled students; scholarships for employees and employee family and friends; fee and testing waivers; and graduate research assistantships.

And in Fall 2020, a new opportunity will be available for graduating high school students pursuing an associate degree at one of the Alamo Colleges District's five colleges. Through AlamoPROMISE, which is funded by public and private-sector partners and foundations, graduating seniors from a participating high school who meet certain requirements, will be provided two years of tuition at any of the five colleges within the district, including Palo Alto College.

In the first year of the program, students from 25 participating high schools will be able to participate, including graduates of Burbank High School, Harlandale High School, John F. Kennedy High School, McCollum High School, Somerset High School, South San Antonio High School, Southside High School, Southwest High School, and Southwest Legacy High School.

The continued support from our partners and the launch of AlamoPROMISE is part of our goal to eliminate barriers to higher education and make a college degree a reality.

As a pillar in south San Antonio for over three decades, Palo Alto College's collective focus is to ensure our community is prepared to build a strong foundation.

This column by Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College, was originally published in the San Antonio Express-News' Southside Reporter and