FORT PIERCE—Indian River State College’s Promise Pledge is now activated at promise.irsc.edu for students graduating this year from public and public charter high school students and eligible homeschool students residing in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.
Students pledging to the Promise can pursue tuition-free Associate degrees at Indian River State College directly after high school graduation. There are no family income requirements, and applicants don’t have to have stellar high school grades. The Promise does require a commitment to a full-time course of study at IRSC. The pledge period will stay open until May 24, 2024.
The College held a rally at Treasure Coast High School (TCHS) in Port St. Lucie to herald the Promise Pledge and explain some details of the last-dollar, tuition-paid program sponsored by the IRSC Foundation. The program is funded through donations from philanthropists and unrestricted investment proceeds. Since its inception in 2022, the Promise has provided thousands of local students with pathways to higher education.
“Almost nine years ago, I was in the same position you are in today,” Nick Geniti, Promise Program Coordinator, told the TCHS Class of 2024, which had gathered for a spirited rally Wednesday morning. “You’re sad to say goodbye to your teachers and friends, but you’re also pretty excited for the future. I’m here to talk to you about the next chapter.
“For some of you, affordability is what’s standing in your way. IRSC is going to make sure you never have to deal with that,” Geniti said, as the room erupted in applause and cheers. He explained that Indian River State College is spreading the same news to 15 other area high schools and encouraged them to scan the QR code on the screen beside him and take the pledge.
The IRSC Promise is changing lives for thousands of students who otherwise might not go to college. More than half of Promise students are the first in their families to go to college, and nearly 80% are Hispanic, Black or Asian, Geniti said.
Emily Glotz of Port St. Lucie struggled financially with her family during high school, so when she heard about Promise, she took notice. “It was very stress-free because of (Promise),” she said of her time at IRSC pursuing an Associate in Arts Degree in a Health Science track. “It’s a really great opportunity for students. It definitely changed my life.”
“I just really felt relieved when I saw the balance, and it was zero,” said Moriah Brown, who is working to complete her tuition-free Associate in Science Degree in Surgical Services Technology. “The Promise program eased my concerns and my parents’ concerns because, obviously, as a student just coming out of high school, I can’t pay all those bills,” she said.
The focus this year extends beyond recruitment, Geniti said. “We want to place equal emphasis on retention efforts to guarantee sustained success for every student,” he said. “We are committed to meet students at their current level and elevate their skills through a comprehensive college education.”
“If the Promise program wasn’t here, I really wouldn’t be here,” says Rayanna Cibulsky, who is slated to graduate this spring with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. “The Promise program has helped me to save more money and it made me happy. I really didn’t want to miss this opportunity.”
Veronica Rodriguez of Indian River County completed half of the coursework necessary for her Associate in Arts Degree in the Health Science track while dual-enrolled at IRSC during high school. She used the Promise program to finish up her degree and graduated in fall 2023. “I wanted to go to college, but I was worried about all the financial aspects of it. That’s a big burden people carry, and I know that’s a reason why people don’t go to college,” she said. “I don’t have to go far. I felt safe going to IRSC, versus going out-of-state or going to a different city.”
For more information or to take the pledge, visit promise.irsc.edu.