Central Arizona College-Maricopa
Central Arizona College's Promise for the Future program offers two years of tuition free education to Pinal County high school graduates if they sign up in eighth grade.

Central Arizona College is offering graduates of Pinal County schools two free years of college if they participated in the “Promise for the Future” scholarship program.

The program is offered to eighth grade students and provides them two free years of classes at CAC if they sign the program’s contract, keep a GPA of 2.75 or higher, and graduate from a high school within Pinal County. Students who sign the contract but move to a high school outside of Pinal County are no longer eligible.

According to Maricopa Unified School District Superintendent Steve Chestnut, the estimated value of the scholarship is $5,904. He hopes the prospect of earning two years’ worth of college at no charge is enough to entice more students to remain in the district.

Each year, hundreds of Maricopa students are bused to Tempe and Ahwatukee school districts. There are “A” districts within these cities, and the districts have been seen as better over the years. However, Maricopa has been steadily improving.

Partnerships with CAC have provided more dual credit courses and more advanced placement classes. The rising number of enrollment at MHS is also encouraging. The 2015-16 school year is set to break enrollment records, and more expected next year.

According to Chestnut, the number of students in the incoming freshman class rose from 492 eighth grade students at the end of last year to 545 ninth graders currently enrolled at MHS. More students are expected to return to MUSD from Kyrene and Tempe school districts as the district keeps improving.

“The other three grades at MHS seemed to roll up about the same number of students,” Chestnut said. “We lost a small senior class of only 386. On Oct. 1, we had 1,944 students at MHS. [Elementary] enrollment was at an all time high 0f 6,447.”