On Monday morning Osceola County Commissioners visited schools all over the Osceola School District announcing that they would be allocating over $12 million to ALL 2022 Osceola County high school graduates, including public schools, charter schools, private schools and all homeschool grads who enroll at Valencia College or Osceola Technical College (oTech) so that their tuition and fees would be paid until they graduate – as long as they enroll part-time or full-time by Spring 2023.
“The Osceola County Commission wants you to succeed. We believe you can succeed. And we’ve got your back, so you can succeed,” Osceola Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington told students at Liberty and Poinciana high schools. “This is an incredible graduation gift and it celebrates each and every one of you. It’s my hope that this helps you achieve your dreams – or even to dare to dream for something you never thought possible before today.”
The program is called Osceola Prosper and it will make it possible for these students to attend Valencia College to earn an Associate in Arts (A.A.) or Associate in Science (A.S.) degree or complete one of Valencia’s Accelerated Skills Training programs, or Technical Certificate Programs. You may also choose enrollment in a program at Osceola Technical College (oTECH).
“We understand that the investments we make today will pay dividends in the years to come,” Osceola County Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington shared at a news conference held on Monday in front of the Osceola County Courthouse in Kissimmee.
Schools from one end of the county to the other assembled graduating seniors in their auditoriums to share the news that if they were planning on attending Valencia or O-Tech, they could now do so with no tuition cost.
“I was surprised in the beginning, thinking ‘There’s no way their giving us free college for two years with no strings attached!,’ but it’s very true! And it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Kayla Crossfield, a 17-year-old Liberty High senior. “I was planning on going on scholarships and financial aid and maybe borrow money, but now I can go for free, it’s a blessing.”
The program is open to all members of the 2022 graduating class from Osceola County high schools, charter schools, alternative high schools, private schools, or home schooling.
“Unlike many free college programs across the country that require full-time enrollment, our county commissioners understand the challenges and obstacles that our students face, many that enroll in a part-time basis, Valencia College President Dr. Kathleen Plinske said at the news conference.
Earlier in the morning, after speaking to the graduating class at St. Cloud High School about the opportunity to attend Valencia College or O-Tech tuition free, Commissioner Ricky Booth was approached by Rachel, a senior at St. Cloud who was hoping to attend Valencia next Fall, “when I was in 3rd grade my dad had a stroke and he’s on disability, so when I heard this today, I was like, oh my God, I don’t have to worry about this now. Thank you so much.” Commissioner responded, “this is exactly why we’re doing this, for kids like you.
“We are concerned that a lot of kids who have been distance learning for the last two years, and are they going apply to college and pursue their dreams? So, having this access through scholarships for kids in the senior class so they can go to Valencia and get a career or a trade, is absolutely critical to make sure the stress from the pandemic doesn’t affect them long-term,” Florida Congressman Darren Soto shared after the news conference.
So, how does FREE college or technical education sound? Probably pretty exciting.
To qualify students must:
- Apply to Valencia or Osceola Technical College and register for at least one course, an Accelerated Skills Training program, or an Osceola Technical Program in Summer 2022, Fall 2022, or Spring 2023.
- Complete the 2022-23 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by July 15, 2022 (for fall enrollment), or by December 1, 2022 (for spring enrollment). Students not eligible to complete the FAFSA may self-certify they are not able to do so.
Through Osceola Prosper, Osceola County will provide:
- Free application to Valencia College
- Scholarships to cover tuition and fees not otherwise covered by other grants or scholarships for one credential (Associate in Arts degree, Associate in Science degree, Technical Certificate, Accelerated Skills Training, Vocational Training).
In addition, the county will offer a $500 stipend to support related expenses for students who demonstrate financial need.
For more information visit OsceolaProsper.com or call Valencia College at today at 407-582-6200.