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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Likins promise means free tuition for 101 new students

    Nine years ago, 101 third-graders at C.E. Rose Elementary School were given a promise by then-UA President Peter Likins that was almost unheard of: the opportunity to attend college for free, on the condition that each student earned the grades to be accepted.

    Now, those students have graduated and are gearing up to attend Arizona in the fall, at no charge.

    Out of the original 101 students involved in what was named the Building the Future project, about 40 will be enrolled at UA and Pima Community College, said Lori Tochihara, director of the UA Office of Early Academic Outreach. The office has played a role in the promise by establishing a network of support for students entering college.

    Each student’s waived tuition is valued at over $5,000 per year.

    “”This is a very dramatic demonstration that if you remove the fear and concern about burdens from young people with limited needs, then they are motivated and demonstrate the qualities to get into college,”” Likins said.

    The project began in February 1998, when Rotary Clubs led by individuals including Gina Murphy Darling teamed up with Likins with an idea to help boost graduation and university-attendance rates by offering to waive college tuition.

    C.E. Rose Elementary is in a low-income area of Tucson and was chosen partly based on the high levels of free and reduced-price lunch participants, Darling said.

    “”They would not be obliged to pay tuition,”” Likins said. “”The (UA) takes an absence of revenue.””

    Although it would seem the UA is losing money through Likins’s promise, he said the waived tuition would not negatively affect the university.

    “”There is a rejection in the revenue, but it’s just the absence of revenue,”” Likins said, adding that the university will neither gain nor lose money in waiving tuition for these students.

    Created at the start of a nearly decade-long partnership between the UA and Rotary Clubs, Building the Future has followed the C.E. Rose students over the years, mentoring them as their education progressed.

    While providing tutoring for reading and homework, the project was also intended to lower youth crime rates and invest in Tucson’s community, Darling said.

    “”It was never a ‘get your kid to college’ program,”” she added. “”It was all about community partnership and long-term mentoring.””

    Already, the long-term effects are beginning to shine through. In addition to working hard to obtain good grades, the C.E. Rose students have attended national leadership conferences and charity events, even donating $3,000 for Project Smile, a non-profit organization collecting stuffed animals for emergency responders to give to traumatized children in need.

    “”There are a significant number of them that are first-generation college students,”” Darling said of the C.E. Rose students. “”We now have a stronger and better community that didn’t waste a lot of really young, intelligent minds.””

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