CCP Offers Free College For Low-Income Philadelphia Students

Hieu Ngyuen was a high school dropout.

He bounced around schools in the Northeast before he gave up. No one from his family had ever been college. Financially, it wasn’t much of an option anyway.

Two years after Ngyuen made the decision to give up on school, he changed his mind.

“I wanted to come to college. I wanted to be the first in the family. I wanted to set a good example for my younger brothers and sister” he said.

So Ngyuen did a Google search.

He found a program called “Gateway to College” at the Community College of Philadelphia that helps students get their high school degrees and then become full-time college students.

“They told me we can help you. We can help you get your diploma. We can help you go to college if you’re willing – if you’re willing to put in the work.”

Fast-forward to January and President Obama’s State of the Union address. There’s a low buzz through campuses that the President wants to make college free. That buzz died. No one thought anything would become of the idea, until CCP decided to make that idea a reality for low-income students from Philadelphia.

In order to qualify for the scholarship, a student must be eligible for the Pell Grant through his financial aid. The scholarship then takes over where the Pell-grant ends. Students from Philadelphia who qualify for the grant can go to college for free.

For a student like Hieu Ngyuen, it means his dream of college is now a reality.

“I felt defeated a few years ago and Gateway brought me back. They’ve been helping me. They’ve been amazing.”

The Vice President for Institutional Advancement at CCP, Gregory Murphy, said that program aids in the school’s mission; to educate Philadelphia.

“One of the real goals is to have people get out of here without loans, because they’re going to have so many other loans at their 4 years schools. So if they start with loans from here that’s crippling – you know” he said.

Now, what separates Ngyuen from the majority of college students in America is a simple fact – his education is free, which he believes, should be a motivation for other at-risk students in Philadelphia to put in that extra effort in high school.

“I know life isn’t great for a lot of for most of the students here in Philly and this is an opportunity. I know a lot of them get out of high school and are like I can’t afford college; I’m not even going to try.”

Ngyuen said he wants to help those students, so he has chosen psychology as a major.

Here’s the kicker.

That requires a four year degree, and CCP is a two-year school.

But Ngyuen knows where he’s going next.

I’m going to be going to Temple University.”

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