LTCC Expands Lake Tahoe College Promise

May 30, 2019

LTCC Expands Lake Tahoe College Promise to Assist Students in Earning a Degree Tuition Free

Lake Tahoe College PromiseSouth Lake Tahoe, CA-At its recent annual retreat, the members of the Foundation Board at Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC) unanimously voted in support of expanding the college’s free tuition program, called the Lake Tahoe College Promise, from one year to three years. With this fundraising commitment in place, it is now possible for first-time, full-time eligible college students at LTCC to earn a college degree without paying tuition starting in Fall 2019.

When LTCC’s Lake Tahoe College Promise program first launched in Fall 2018, it delivered one year of free tuition, matching the state’s pilot California Promise program. With this new expansion, LTCC will go well beyond what the state provides by offering three years of free tuition, free bus transportation throughout the South Shore, a $100 bookstore credit each quarter, priority access to LTCC’s free textbook lending library, and an array of free support services that will help students get the mentoring, counseling, and planning expertise they need to graduate with a college degree within three years, and possibly debt-free. 

LTCC Foundation Board President Bob Novasel said, “While a free year of college was a good deal, we recognized how powerful it could be for our community to move to a three-year Promise program. That’s enough time to actually earn a college degree in, and having that in hand hugely expands your opportunities over the course of your life. That’s a real gamechanger.”

Since former Governor Jerry Brown signed off on Assembly Bill 19 in 2017, paving the way for a tuition-free year of community college for all California residents, LTCC has been thinking and acting in terms of expanding the program. Thanks to an anonymous donation, LTCC was able to expand the program last fall so Nevada residents of the Tahoe Basin could tap into it along with California residents. With this expansion all around the lake, LTCC became the only college in the country with a bi-state Promise program providing free tuition to all members of the community, regardless of where the border lies. For more on this story, read LTCC Superintendent/President Jeff DeFranco’s Forbes magazine piece at

In April 2019, LTCC won a competitive grant that further expanded its Promise program, adding free services and above-and-beyond support to improve student success. The Promise Scholars Program grant will deliver $150,000 and an array of resources, trainings, and expertise to the college. LTCC is now positioned to plan, design, and replicate what is considered to be one of the top Promise programs in California: Skyline College’s Promise Scholars Program.

Skyline’s program was modeled after the City University of New York’s (CUNY) highly successful Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) model. Students in CUNY’s ASAP program have achieved a 28.1% two-year graduation rate, and a 53.2% three-year graduation rate since launching in 2007. As a comparison, the national two-year graduation rate in 2018 was 13% and the three-year rate was 22%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Through the grant, LTCC will be able to duplicate some of the highlights of Skyline’s and CUNY’s program, including a specific focus on improving the three-year graduation rate, providing a dedicated Promise program counselor and program director, creating a peer mentoring program, providing ongoing incentives for Promise students to encourage continuation of their studies, and the creation of a cohort of Promise students who start college as a group, take certain classes together, attend specialized events together, and build relationships based on common interests. The cohort model has been shown to help students perform better academically. 

“With this grant, last year’s Nevada-side expansion, and now the commitment from our Foundation for a three-year Promise program, LTCC is truly doing all it can to help as many of our local high school grads and first-time adult learners earn a college degree tuition free, with other financial supports in place,” said DeFranco. “Our Promise program started as a way to improve access to education. With our revised program, the focus shifts toward degree completion. We are committed to improving degree completion rates on campus because there is such a significant advantage to having a college degree – it can improve your earnings quickly, and for the remainder of your career. We want our community members to experience upward mobility and a better life, and a college degree absolutely can pave the way for that. Our Promise program has become one of the model programs for the state because of this crucial shift.”

LTCC’s Lake Tahoe College Promise is for any and all first-time college students, including those who earned college credits while in high school. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in and complete at least 12 or more units each quarter for up to three academic quarters, for a maximum of three years or until degree completion, whichever happens first. LTCC strongly advises students to earn at least 15 units per quarter to ensure they graduate with a degree within three years. The program is open to all California residents, all California Dreamer students who are eligible through California Assembly Bill 540, and Nevada residents or Dreamers living in particular zip codes within the Tahoe Basin. A full list of eligibility requirements is available online at

To make a donation to help keep the Lake Tahoe College Promise program in place and expand it even further, please contact LTCC Foundation Executive Director Nancy Harrison at (530) 541-4660 x 245, or email, or visit to donate securely online. To find out more about the Lake Tahoe College Promise program, visit