Scholarship opens path to college for Garfield seniors

Innovative 13th Year program provides tuition-free first year at Seattle Central

Seattle Central College is employing a proven scholarship program to make a college education accessible to more area high school students. When it launches next fall, the 13th Year Promise Scholarship will provide Garfield High School seniors with their first year tuition free at Seattle Central College. A variety of support services to help students make the most of their education are also part of the program.

“The 13th Year represents a compelling and powerful investment by our community in our young people, especially those from low-income families and underrepresented groups,” Seattle Central President Sheila Edwards Lange, Ph.D., said. “By giving students this opportunity, we will profoundly improve their chances of building a bright future.”

The college is working with Seattle Public Schools to communicate the program’s benefits to students and their parents. These benefits include a range of intensive support that begins while they are still in high school, such as assistance with financial aid, an intensive orientation seminar, help with registering for classes, and quarterly check-in meetings with advisors once they arrive on campus.

The scholarship is structured to utilize any financial aid funds students qualify for first, and the Seattle Central Foundation will cover any difference in order to make tuition free. Private donations will fund the scholarships, while city funds will pay for the program’s administrative costs. Fees, books and other expenses are not covered by the program, but the college’s Financial Aid Office will work with students to identify a host of funding options.

Initially pioneered by South Seattle College in 2008, the program was created in response to research that found students who complete at least one year of college are more likely to finish and earn their degrees. Providing a tuition-free year reduces the barriers for many students – especially those from families with modest means – to enter college.

Recognizing its efficacy, the City of Seattle earmarked funds to expand the program to more area high schools throughout the city. Seattle Central is partnering with Garfield first (the Class of 2018 will be the first eligible), with other nearby high schools to eventually follow.

Application information

The application will open on Nov. 15, and the deadline to apply is Jan. 31, 2018. Comprehensive information on the program can be found at