Tallahassee, FL — Eighth-grade students from Timberland Charter Academy on June 2 were eager to begin the next step of their lives, high school. While the delighted students were getting ready to graduate, state university officials surprised them during the ceremony.
Grand Valley State University promised roughly 40 graduates free tuition as long as they graduated high school with at least a 2.8 GPA.
The academy is the first school to be selected for the program. The funding comes from the Grand Valley Pledge program.
The assistant director of charter through college programs at GVSU, Barry Hall, was the keynote speaker and announced the surprise about free tuition.
"Once they have sophomores and juniors and they have colleges talking to them, say how much it costs to go here, that whole process of getting in, they're going to say, 'Wow, I've already been accepted into a school already, and I know what this process is all about,'" Hall told The Hill.
Stephen Evans, the academy's director, said the program includes further funding for additional college expenses.
"The program offers free tuition, tutoring, and a variety of support programs. You name it. Everything that a student will need to be successful at the college level and the system that we're going to put in at the high school level, at Timberland, to support them through high school," he said.
Gloria Hammond, a mother of one of the students, said the announcement was a "relief for parents."
"It's exciting for our children to have an opportunity to go to college if they want to go and not have to pay for it and that barrier has been broken for them," she said.