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Seattle Promise Celebrates Largest Enrollment to Date

Applications Currently Open for Fall 2021; Students Encouraged to Apply

SEATTLE (December 3, 2020) — The City of Seattle, Seattle Colleges, and Seattle Public Schools celebrated the largest enrollment in Seattle Promise in the program’s history. To date, 846 Seattle youth are on their way to earning a college degree with two years (or up to 90 credits) of tuition-free postsecondary education and student support services offered by the Seattle Promise program, which was officially created in November 2017.

The incoming class marks the first year that high school graduates from 17 Seattle Public Schools (SPS) high schools were eligible to apply to the program, compared to just six schools in 2019. With the influx of new Promise scholars, the number of students in the program has doubled and includes roughly a quarter of the SPS graduating class of 2020.

“Creating Seattle Promise is one of my proudest accomplishments as Mayor. Barriers to college often span generations, and for too long have disproportionately impacted communities of color, immigrants, and refugees. These record-breaking numbers show that our work to break down those barriers is working. Seattle Promise is a great example of what a strong partnership between colleges, public schools, and government can do. We can open doors for students furthest from educational justice,” said Mayor Durkan. “The pandemic and economic crisis have magnified the importance of a college degree or certificate. If we want a truly equitable economic recovery, we must ensure our students are prepared with a college degree or certificate and a pathway to jobs.”

“We are thrilled students and families, particularly students of color, underserved youth, and first-generation college students, are seeing Seattle Promise as a real pathway to a college education and a successful career. This provides our Promise scholars a beginning to endless possibilities,” said Shouan Pan, Chancellor for Seattle Colleges.

“This is an immense opportunity for our youth and a meaningful accomplishment for this two-year-old program. Seattle Promise is providing a bridge for all students to pursue their post-secondary aspirations and succeed,” said SPS Superintendent Denise Juneau.

In fall 2020, Seattle Colleges enrolled 699 first-year students and 147 second-year students in the Seattle Promise program. Sixty-two percent of participants identify as students of color (21% Asian, 18% African American, 18% Hispanic, and 5% multiracial or other race), 26 percent as white, and 12 percent are unknown or unreported. As a student body, Seattle Promise is more diverse than the Seattle public high schools they represent, and more than one-third of Promise students are the first in their families to attend college.

For students like Abdi Yusuf, a 2020 graduate from Roosevelt high school and first-year Seattle Central College student, college plans were uncertain until he found himself consulting with the Seattle Promise outreach specialist at his school, Francisco Ramos.

“Francisco gave me all the information I needed about Promise and the colleges, answered all my questions. I still email him pretty much every day. He did all that for me. Thanks to him, I’m in college,” said Abdi Yusuf.

Seattle Promise provides tuition scholarships, equity scholarships for school-related expenses for those with greatest need, and individual guidance and advising beginning in high school and extending through a student’s Promise experience regardless of grade point average (GPA), income, ability or country of birth. This fall more than half of Promise scholars are receiving tuition scholarship support and approximately one quarter are receiving the equity scholarship.

The program covers any remaining tuition balance at one of the Seattle Colleges (North, Central or South) after other public funding, grants or scholarships a student may be eligible to receive have been applied. Seattle voters passed the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy to support the program in November 2018.

With nursing school as her objective, 2020 Nathan Hale high school graduate, Karla Franco Fierro began looking into local colleges, ultimately settling on Seattle Central College. “I wanted to stay close to my family and study nursing, but I wasn’t sure how I could afford to do it. Seattle Promise is making it possible for me to keep what’s important to me while pursuing my education,” said Karla Franco Fierro. 

Application for Fall 2021 Now Open

The Seattle Promise application for class of 2021 graduating seniors is now open. Seattle Public Schools high school seniors are invited to apply. Visit for more information and application assistance, including virtual workshops for students and families available in multiple languages as well as other videos and one-to-one support.