The San Diego Promise Program is a college access and success program that provides two years of free tuition to eligible students at City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges.

The program is designed to increase student success, support transfer-level coursework completion, and improve San Diego residents’ social and economic mobility.

The California Community Colleges Promise Grant allows students to attend community colleges for free. (Further aid is needed for the purchase of books and supplies.)

What is the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD)?

The San Diego Community College District includes City College, Mesa College, Miramar College, and the Continuing Education Division with seven campuses.

The district has 105,000 students each semester, making it one of California’s largest community colleges and sixth in the United States.

What is the San Diego Promise Program?

The San Diego Promise is a program that covers the cost of tuition for up to two years at San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges.

The program also provides textbook grants of $400 per year to students who qualify for a fee waiver.

San Diego Promise is a useful tool for students who are struggling financially or do not have the support necessary to complete their education by themselves.

The program provides access to higher education for everyone, regardless of their financial situation.

Additionally, the program offers support and resources to help students succeed in college and ultimately reach their academic goals. The San Diego Promise is an important program offering immense opportunities for needy students.

San Diego Promise program Milestones
Source: San Diego Promise Promise

History of the San Diego Promise Program

The San Diego Promise program provides qualified students at San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges with a free community college education. 

Since its implementation, the program has seen immense success, and administrators believe recipients will continue to rise.

The program leverages funds provided by the state of California and generous donors’ support to ensure that no student is denied access to a high-quality education due to a lack of resources.

The program engages all students in a learning community promoting academic success. The program has successfully provided access to a community college education by removing financial barriers and providing wrap-around support.

Related: Cuyamaca College: Everything you Need to Know!

Launched by the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) in 2016, the San Diego Promise delivers unprecedented access to a community college education for thousands of students. 

In fact, since the beginning of the implementation phase, the San Diego Promise has helped nearly 4,000 students annually, from a starting point of only 186.

What are the program eligibility requirements?

The San Diego Promise program is open to all first-time/full-time students who are recent high school graduates.

In addition, limited spaces are available for students who do not meet the above requirements and are former foster youth, formerly incarcerated, adults returning to school, those who cannot attend full-time due to unique circumstances, and/or DACA recipients.

San Diego Promise is not a need-based funding source, and your admission or rejection from the program is not based upon your financial need or current hardships.

To be eligible, you must be a first-time college student and a class of 2022 high school graduates. Having your High School Diploma and GED are also considerations for the program.

If you are a member of one of the following groups, then you are also eligible to apply:

  • Foster Youth, Student Veteran of U.S. Armed Forces
  • Formerly Incarcerated
  • Undocumented

All applicants must be either a California resident or eligible under AB 540.

What are the benefits of the program?

Participation in San Diego Promise comes with several benefits and perks.

Eligible students who have successfully entered the program will be assigned a peer mentor/success coach, specialized guidance counseling, and curated counseling support. 

There are also on-campus events, and engagement opportunities open exclusively to San Diego Promise students.

As you can see, SDCCD creates an environment of inclusion and engagement within the San Diego Promise family.

“We are very proud of this program, which provides access to a community college education for students who might otherwise have been excluded due to financial demands,” said former SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll. “We are also proud of the students who have taken advantage of this program and used it to transform their lives.”

San Diego Promise covers the enrollment fee per unit ($46/unit) and the student health fees ($20) during the Fall and Spring semesters for both years a student is enrolled in the program.

How do I Submit a Promise Application?

Signing up for San Diego Promise requires a few steps, but they are relatively easy and are required for the submission of your application.

The first step is to submit a normal application for admission to either San Diego City College, Miramar College, or Mesa College. These institutions accept 100 percent of applicants, so there is no need to worry that you may be denied admission.

Moreover, students MUST submit a financial aid application. Complete a 2022-2023 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before submitting the San Diego Promise application. The FAFSA will ask for an applicable school code to be entered, and those codes for (City, Mesa, and Miramar) are as follows:

  • San Diego City College: 001273
  • San Diego Mesa College: 001275
  • San Diego Miramar College: 014172

After submitting a regular admission application and the FAFSA, interested students should complete a Promise application before the August 15, 2022 deadline.

Once applied, students will prepare for the required college online new student orientation and develop an abbreviated education plan complete with classes students will take and prepare to begin the two-year completion program.

Related: California State University Application Information | CSU Apply

Related: Applying to UCSD Using the UCSD Application Portal

After meeting with a college counselor and identifying the necessary education goals program requirements. Eligible students should sign a Promise contract, enroll in 12 units each semester, and maintain a 2.0 GPA by the semester complete.

Eligible students access additional campus engagement opportunities and must sign the Promise contract. Students must also attend a Promise orientation, sign the promise contract before enrolling in courses, and have all courses identified before enrolling.

Students must maintain 12 units each semester (maintaining a 2.0 GPA) to remain in the program and eligible.

What are the Application Filing Deadlines?

The deadline for Promise applications is June 17, 2022. Applications will be accepted on a space-available basis until August 15, 2022.

Beginning on June 13, 2022, students will be advised of the Promise contract and the steps they need to take to enroll.

Please be mindful of these deadlines and requirement dates because the program will not accept new students if they fail to accommodate the required filings on time.

Related: When do UC Decisions Come Out? Announcing 2023 UC Decision Dates

Moreover, California community colleges are actively informing students about the deadlines and requirements in the hopes of submitting the necessary documentation before the filing deadline.

Speak with your college counselor and ensure you meet all the requirements for the California Promise Program and the San Diego Promise grant.

Difference between the San Diego Promise and California College Promise Grant (CCPG)

Formerly known as the Board of Governors Waiver (BOGW), the California community college system has created the California College Promise program (CCPG) fee waiver.

It is essentially the same framework operating under the BOGW, but it is a state-funded program providing waived enrollment fees for all eligible California residents.

The CCPG also focuses more on funding based on financial need and is determined based on the financial information submitted in your FAFSA or CA Dream Act application (CADAA).

Similar requirements and eligibility criteria exist for the CCPG, including requiring students to be California residents or be deemed AB 540 students.

If you think you are eligible for the California College Promise Grant Program, you can submit an application here.

Please remember that you must submit either a FAFSA or CADAA application to be considered for the California College Promise Grant.

You will need to have your parent’s or guardian’s tax information in order to complete the necessary financial filings to be considered eligible for the CCPG. 

Students primarily elect to handle this application first because it is the most important and requires only one document to be submitted.

The main difference between the CCPG and San Diego Promise is basing the grant decision upon the student’s financial needs.

In other words, the San Diego Promise grant does not accept or decline based on a student’s financial situation. Instead, it simply requires students to fill out the FASA or CADAA and maintain enrollment in at least 12 units each semester while maintaining a 2.0 GPA.

Speak with a Counselor

The most important advice I could give is to seek the support and guidance of your local Community College counselor and Promise director. The SDCCD is one of the largest in California, and they have many college courses to choose from.

Students who maintain good grade marks and remain in the Promise program are deemed eligible for priority registration. The program provides a comprehensive education plan for your completed college courses.


The San Diego Promise Program is an excellent opportunity for eligible students to receive free tuition for two years at City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges. The program is designed to help students succeed and transfer to a four-year university.

If you think you might be eligible for the Promise Program, speak with your counselor and research the program requirements.

You can also find more information on the SDCCD website or by contacting the Promise office at either of the three institutions listed.

Overall, San Diego Promise benefits students because it covers health fees, books grants, and provides additional campus engagement opportunities.

If accepted into the program, the Promise Orientation Students event is required for all California community colleges and students interested in financial aid assistance. Students who have submitted a financial aid application should check their emails to ensure they did not miss an acceptance or required correspondence.

Please note that the San Diego Promise and the California College Promise Grant are two different funding sources and should not be mistaken as a single source with only one application.

Interested in learning about San Diego Promise? Consider checking out the San Diego Promise Application Checklist.

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