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IRSC - Keeping the Promise to Treasure Coast High School Graduates for Tuition-Free Associate Degrees

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IRSC
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IRSC President Dr. Timothy Moore (L) shakes hands with the Superintendent of the School District of Indian River County, Dr. David K. Moore, at Wednesday’s launch of the 2023 Promise Program at Sebastian River High School.
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IRSC
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IRSC President Dr. Timothy Moore

Sebastian - Wednesday November 16, 2022: At a special assembly Wednesday morning for 12th-grade students at Sebastian River High School, Indian River State College (IRSC) announced the continuation, and expansion, of the IRSC Promise Program, a significant investment in eliminating barriers to higher education.

Promise 2023 offers tuition-free Associate degrees for qualifying 2023 graduates from public high schools, as well as public charter high schools, in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties. And next year, the IRSC Promise Program 2023 will be extended to graduating homeschool students in the district who qualify for a tuition-free Associate degrees.

“Thanks to the generosity and support of our IRSC Foundation, we will build on the success of our inaugural year of the Promise Program and open the aperture a little wider for the next IRSC Promise cohort,” said IRSC President Dr. Timothy Moore. “Promise 2023 reaches beyond public and public charter school graduates to offer eligible homeschool graduates in our service district an opportunity to earn an A.A., A.S. or A.A.S. degree from IRSC tuition-free.”

To take advantage of the program, eligible high school seniors must commit to IRSC by taking the Promise Pledge by March 10, 2023. That pledge is available at: promise.irsc.edu.

The IRSC Promise Program was launched in March 2022 for in-district public and public charter high school graduates. While college enrollment continues to fall nationally, the IRSC Promise Program led to a dramatic increase in enrollment locally. With more than 3,200 students, IRSC’s fall 2022 first-time-in-college cohort is the largest in the College’s history. More than 1 in 3 local high school graduates enrolled at IRSC through the Promise Program.

After only one year, the IRSC Promise Program is already making good on its commitment to make college education broadly accessible.

“The impact (of Promise) on underrepresented groups such as minority, first-generation and low-income populations is stunning,” underscores Michael Hageloh, IRSC Executive Vice President for Strategic Initiatives. “The Promise Program is the ultimate investment in our community and workforce–from technicians to nurses.”

First-time-in-college student data demonstrate the program’s broad reach:

• Minority students are 80% of the Promise 2022 cohort
• Enrollment for first-year Hispanic students has doubled from last fall
• First-generation students make up the majority of first-year students
• Pell-grant eligibility is the highest in years, increasing 48% year over year
• The gap between female and male first-year student enrollment is narrowing

The IRSC Promise program is not a grant or scholarship. It is a tuition-paid program sponsored by the IRSC Foundation and funded through generous donor philanthropy and unrestricted investment proceeds.

IRSC Promise students do not need to demonstrate financial need, and there is no GPA requirement for acceptance to the program. Once in the program, students must maintain full-time enrollment status during fall, spring and summer terms and maintain satisfactory academic progress as they pursue an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or Applied Associate in Science Degree.

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WQCS
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IRSC President Dr. Timothy Moore speaking during a special assembly for 12th-grade students at Sebastian River High School Wednesday.

IRSC Promise Program 2023 Questions and Answers

What is the IRSC Promise Program?

The IRSC Promise Program provides tuition-free Associate degrees for students graduating in 2023 from public and public charter high schools in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties and eligible 2023 in-district homeschool graduates.

How does one get into the Program?

To take advantage of the program, eligible high school seniors must commit to IRSC by taking the Promise Pledge, available at promise.irsc.edu. The pledge deadline is March 10, 2023.

Is there a catch?

There is no catch. Any public or public charter high school graduate in the IRSC service district or eligible in-district homeschool graduate for 2023 who qualifies for Florida in-state residency and wishes to enroll as a full-time student in an IRSC Associate Degree program can participate.

What’s an eligible homeschool graduate? 

In-district 2023 homeschool students need to provide an IRSC Homeschool Affidavit Form + School District Letter acknowledging the establishment or termination of their home education program. Students homeschooled through a private school are considered private school students, not homeschoolers and are not eligible for the IRSC Promise Program.

Do students have to demonstrate financial need or be first-generation students to qualify? 

No, the Promise is not based on need, however, Promise students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year. 

Is a minimum high school GPA required? The Promise program requires that you graduate in 2023 from a public or public charter high school in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee or St. Lucie county or be an eligible in-district homeschool graduate. Students must meet the minimum 2.0 GPA required for high school graduation. Once at IRSC, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA to receive Promise funding.  

Does the Promise apply to career-training (non-degree) certificates?  You must be enrolled full-time in an Associate Degree program to be part of the IRSC Promise Program. Several IRSC programs allow you to earn industry certifications as you progress toward your degree. These include A.S. and A.A.S. programs in trades such as Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating Systems Technology; Automotive Service Management Technology; Building Construction Technology; Criminal Justice Technology; and Fire Science Technology. View IRSC Associate in Science/Associate in Applied Science Degree programs at https://irsc.edu/programs/associate-in-science-degree-programs.html. 


Is the Promise available to private school students? Not yet.  We will continue to evaluate the program to inform future expansion plans. We encourage private school graduates to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for IRSC Foundation scholarships for assistance with funding. 

Are Dual Enrollment students eligible for the Promise? Yes. Any student that is a 2023 graduate from an in-district public or public charter high school or an eligible 2023 in-district homeschool graduate, regardless of incoming credit, can pledge to the IRSC Promise program. 

Is the Promise available to G.E.D.® students? G.E.D.® students are not yet eligible for the IRSC Promise program. We will continue to evaluate the program for next year to make expansion plans. We encourage G.E.D.® students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for IRSC Foundation scholarships for assistance with funding. 

Are graduates of Florida Virtual School eligible for the Promise? No. Only graduates of public and public charter high schools in Martin, Indian River, Okeechobee, and St Lucie counties or eligible in-district homeschool graduates are eligible. We encourage Florida Virtual School graduates to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for IRSC Foundation scholarships for assistance with funding.

Are DACA students eligible for the Promise? Yes. If the State of Florida considers you a student, IRSC considers you a student. DACA students who qualify for Florida in-state residency can pledge to the Promise. We will work with each student individually to confirm eligibility.

What if a 2023 high school graduate completed an A.A. concurrent with high school graduation and wants to pursue an A.S. at IRSC? That student would qualify for the Promise program to complete an A.S. Degree.

If I already have Florida Pre-paid, can I still be eligible for the Promise?  The IRSC Promise Program allows families with 529 plans, like Florida Prepaid, to stretch their investments even further. Those seeking to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree after completing an IRSC Associate Degree tuition-free can apply pre-paid balances toward that next educational milestone. Unused Florida Pre-Paid monies may also be returned to you; see www.myfloridaprepaid.com for details. 

Am I still eligible for the Promise if I already have Bright Futures or scholarships?  The Promise will apply to any tuition balance after funds from Bright Futures or scholarships are applied. 

If I get financial aid, does the IRSC Promise still apply to me? The Promise Program is last-dollar funding, meaning it will cover any tuition cost after financial aid and scholarships have been applied.

Will the Promise Program cover my tuition if I don’t qualify for Financial Aid or scholarships? Yes, the Promise Program will cover the cost of tuition students who don’t qualify for Financial Aid or scholarships.

How is the IRSC Promise Program funded? The IRSC Promise is a tuition-paid program sponsored by the IRSC Foundation and funded through generous donor philanthropy and unrestricted investment proceeds. The IRSC Promise Program has no cash value. The College looks forward to partnering with other private organizations to expand the program and meet the needs of even more students.

Are there any other costs apart from tuition for the Promise Program?   The Promise Program covers tuition only. There are additional costs students should budget for, including books, supplies, transportation, rent, and food.  Examples of fees you could be responsible for include distance learning fees, lab fees, and other special fees.  For more information on Indian River State College fees, visit the college catalog.  

What if I am not eligible for the Promise Program? Students not eligible for the Promise Program should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for IRSC Foundation scholarships for assistance with funding. 

How do I learn more about the IRSC Promise Program? Students and parents can talk with their high guidance counselors or visit promise.irsc.edu to view a schedule of upcoming Promise Program Information Sessions, learn more about the program, and take the Promise Pledge.