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D.C. launches tuition program for degrees in high-demand fields

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A new program launched Tuesday by the District will help cover the costs of college tuition for residents seeking a degree in high-demand fields at three local universities.

Along with tuition, the program, called DC Futures, will also provide coaching and financial support to residents who are obtaining their first associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Through the program, residents can receive up to $8,000 in tuition support each academic year and a possible stipend of $1,500 each year.

The program targets students in high-demand programs of study, such as education, health science and information technology. When combined with other financial aid, DC Futures can fully cover tuition costs, officials said.

The $12 million program is funded through the American Rescue Plan covid relief package.

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) called the program “a critical investment that will break down traditional barriers.”

“When we support the career dreams of Washingtonians, that is the type of fair shot that can change the trajectory of someone’s life,” Bowser said in a release Tuesday.

Participants can attend the University of the District of Columbia, the University of the District of Columbia Community College, Catholic University of America or Trinity Washington University.

A pilot program began this spring through the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, whose leader, State Superintendent of Education Christina Grant, called the investment a “worthwhile use of economic recovery funds.” Approximately 304 residents are participating in the pilot.

Applications for all three of D.C.'s college assistance programs — the federally funded D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program, the Mayor’s Scholars Undergraduate Program and DC Futures — opened Tuesday. The applications will have a rolling deadline that runs through Aug. 19 to get as many residents as possible enrolled for the upcoming fall semester, city officials said.

In late January, D.C. Council members also proposed legislation that could make college more affordable for high-schoolers, called the DC Advancing College Hopes for Immigrants’ Education and Vocational Enrichment Scholarship — or DC ACHIEVES — Establishment Act. The legislation would provide grants to high-schoolers who do not have U.S. citizenship.

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