RICHMOND PROMISE OVERVIEW AND GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. Am I eligible for the Richmond Promise? 

To be eligible for the Richmond Promise, you must:

1. Be a resident of the City of Richmond or North Richmond (i.e. have a Richmond home address)

2. Graduate from a high school within the West Contra Costa Unified School District boundary area (See: Eligible Schools)

3. You must have attended a high school in the West Contra Unified School District boundary area since the 9th grade

2. Is my school eligible?

Any school within the West Contra Costa Unified School District boundary area, including public, charter, and private schools, is eligible for the Richmond Promise. To apply for the Richmond Promise, your school must choose to participate. Please visit our Eligible Schools page for a complete list of participating high schools.

3.  What is the scholarship award amount?

Scholarship Amount will be determined based on your length of time as a Richmond resident and attendance record in high school. Please see the chart below.

4. Why do you use a scale to distribute the awards?

We’re here to help build a better city and that success starts with you! We want to invest in families that have lived and invested in Richmond and encourage more families to invest in Richmond early on.

5. What if I moved out of the district for a period of time, and then came back? How much funding would I receive? 

The scholarship amount is determined by the most recent consecutive period of time you spent as a Richmond resident, attending schools in the district. For example, if you attended local schools grades K-5, left for grades 6-8, then returned for 9-12, you would be eligible for the most recent consecutive time in local schools: grades 9-12, up to $1,000. 

6. Why do you consider school attendance?

Attending school regularly is essential to students gaining the academic and social skills they need to succeed. By 9th grade, missing 20 percent of the school year is a better predictor of dropping out than test scores. Your opportunities to learn and chances to succeed increase exponentially when you are in the classroom!

You must have positive attendance at an eligible school defined by missing no more than 10% of the school year, including excused and unexcused absences for each year you are eligible. If your attendance hasn’t been great, you can make the change starting now! Exemptions will be made for you if you’ve spent extended time in a hospital in the event of a medical or family emergency. Contact Richmond Promise at info@richmondpromise.org if you have a unique circumstance for consideration.

7. What if I’m a foster youth or homeless youth and have moved in and out of Richmond and between schools a lot, can I still qualify for the scholarship?

If you have extenuating and unique circumstances, such as having moved or changed schools many time due to being in foster care or homeless, please contact Richmond Promise at info@richmondpromise.org to discuss eligibility. We at the Richmond Promise want to make this scholarship as accessible as possible if you have spent a lot of your childhood in Richmond but have had unique circumstances such as these. 

8. Is the Richmond Promise available for undocumented students?

Yes! The program applies to any Richmond resident who graduates from an eligible school. Undocumented students will need to complete the California Dream Act application to qualify for the Richmond Promise. The California Dream Act application is due March 2! 

9. Where can I use my Richmond Promise Scholarship?

You can use your Promise Scholarship to obtain a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree or Career and Technical Education (CTE) certificate from an accredited four year university or community college (public or private). You may not use the Promise Scholarship for fully online programs or for profit institutions.

10. What is the difference between a non-profit, private, and for profit higher education institution?[1]

Public colleges and universities receive funding from tuition and endowments, but the larger part of their funding comes from state or local taxes. Most public postsecondary schools are state-run, which lowers the tuition for in-state students.

Private, non-profit colleges and universities receive funding primarily from student tuition and endowments. These institutions function as non-profit organizations that usually follow the leadership of a board of trustees. Private colleges and universities may receive some governmental support in the form of tax breaks and student loans, but operating mostly on private support allows them to develop their own institutional plan.

For-profit higher education institutions, or schools, are privately owned and operated, whereas non-profit schools are publicly owned. The credits earned at a for-profit school are not accredited meaning they cannot be transferred over to an accredited non-profit school if you wish to change schools or continue on to advanced degree programs. 

[1] NACAC http://www.nacacnet.org/issues-action/LegislativeNews/Pages/For-Profit-Colleges.aspx

11.  How long do I have to use my Richmond Promise award?

Your award is available for up to four years at an eligible four-year university, and two years at a community college with the ability to transfer the award for an additional two years at a four-year university.

12.  I graduated before 2016, can I apply for the Richmond Promise?

No. Only graduates of the Class of 2016 and beyond are eligible.

13.  If I already graduated from high school (2016 or after) and meet the eligibility requirements, can I still apply to the Richmond Promise scholarship?

You may apply for the Richmond Promise up to one year after the completion of your high school degree or equivalency and up to the age of 21; students who pursue military service and are beyond the age limit are exempt.

14.  Can I use the Richmond Promise if I am a part-time student?

No. Students must be attending school full time, usually 12 units but may vary depending on your college or university in order to receive the Richmond Promise Scholarship. 

15.  Can the scholarship be transferred from a two-year college to a four-year college or university?

Yes! Richmond Promise will happily transfer your scholarship between eligible schools and actively encourage people to transfer from two to four-year schools. Please meet with your community college counselor as soon as possible to create a transfer plan. You will be notified of partnerships and opportunities at your school of choice once your award is confirmed.

16.  Can the scholarship be transferred to siblings or friends?

No. It’s only for the student who applied for and earned the scholarship.

17.  Why do I need to participate in extracurricular activities to qualify for the Richmond Promise scholarship?

Part of preparing for college occurs outside the classroom. Participating in at least one extracurricular activity (i.e. sports, club), volunteer activity, work/internship, or college prep program (i.e. EAOP, Ivy League Connection, College is Real) will help develop the skills you’ll need to succeed in college, and help you create a more competitive application.

RICHMOND PROMISE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION QUESTIONS

1.  When is the application due and how can I get help with it?

You must complete a Richmond Promise application and submit it online between October 3, 2016 and March 10, 2017, 11:59PM. Late applications will not be accepted.

For assistance with your application, schedule an appointment with your school counselor, attend one of our fall computer lab workshops, or visit Application Support to see where you can access a computer and Internet. 

2.  What do I need in order to submit an application?

1.          Email address: You will need an email address to create an account for the online application.

2.         FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR) or CA Dream Act Application Student Aid Report (CalSAR): You must upload your SAR or CalSAR as a .pdf, .jpg, or .png file. You receive your SAR or CalSAR after completing the FAFSA or Dream Act. If you need help filling out your FAFSA or Dream Act application, please visit Application Support for available resources.

Please visit the Application Materials for detailed instructions on submitting necessary items for the application.

3.  Why do I have to fill out the FAFSA or Dream Act by March 2?

The FAFSA and the CA Dream Act Application provide federal and state aid and grants to all California residents. It is necessary that you apply by March 2 so you receive the maximum amount of financial support to make completing college as affordable as possible.  

4.  When is the deadline for the FAFSA or Dream Act?

The CA Dream Act and the FAFSA for California state aid is due March 2. For the quickest processing time, we recommend you complete your FAFSA online, where your application will process within 3-5 days. Alternatively, you can submit a paper application, which will process in 7-10 days. For help with filling out the FAFSA, you should attend a Cash for College workshop at your high school or in your community or one of our computer lab workshops. A list of Cash for College events can be found here.

5.  Do I have to wait until my parents or I file taxes to complete my FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application?

No you do not! In fact, this year’s FAFSA or CA Dream Act Applications require using 2015 tax and income information (i.e. last year’s taxes) not this year’s taxes. These should already have been completed and filed. We recommend you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (only if you are completing a FAFSA, not a CA Dream Act Application) if you can to quickly and accurately input you and your parents’/guardians’ income information. 

6.  When will I be notified if I received the Richmond Promise scholarship?

You will be notified via email by May 9, 2017 if you are a recipient of the Richmond Promise Scholarship. 

7.  I need help with the Richmond Promise Application, financial aid, and/or figuring out the college application and enrollment process in general. What do I do?

·      Visit your college and career center at your high school!

·      Attend Cash for College events for assistance filling out your FAFSA/Dream Act (see below)

·      The Richmond Promise team is here to support you! Attend an application workshop, or contact Jessica Rodriguez, the Richmond Promise Program Manager, at jrodriguez@richmondpromise.org or (510) 620-6531 for one-on-one assistance, or to request a workshop through the Richmond Promise website.

·      Visit the Richmond Promise Website for a growing list of resources help you find more scholarships, complete financial aid applications, access support on college applications, etc. 

8.  Where can I get help with my taxes?

You can get free tax support at many local community sites. Visit http://www.earnitkeepitsaveit.org/ to find free tax assistance near you! When you are going to get your taxes prepared, be sure to bring with you the following:

1. Photo identification (for you and your spouse, if filing jointly)

2. Social Security card or ITIN for each family member

3. W-2 forms for all jobs held in 2015

4. All 1099, 1098, or other tax forms

5. Savings and checking account and routing numbers for Tax Refund Direct Deposit

6. Prior year’s tax return Preparation

7. Your household’s health coverage information (1095-A if bought through Covered CA).

I RECEIVED THE RICHMOND PROMISE SCHOLARSHIP! NOW WHAT?

1.  What do I need to do to receive my Richmond Promise scholarship?

In order to process your scholarship award and have it sent to your college, you must turn in two documents:

1.          Scholarship Acceptance Form

2.         Proof of Enrollment (Specific document TBD)

You will receive the Scholarship Acceptance form, and detailed instructions by mail and email after you have been notified that you are a recipient of the scholarship. Please turn these documents in as soon as possible by emailing, mailing, or faxing them to Scholarship America at:

  • Email: richmondpromise@scholarshipamerica.org
  • Address: Richmond Promise Scholarship Program, Scholarship Management Services

                       One Scholarship Way, Saint Peter, MN 56082

  • Fax: 507-931-8033

2.  What happens if I decide to go to another college or university?

We understand that college plans change over the summer for numerous reasons. If this happens, please contact Jessica Rodriguez, the Richmond Promise Program Manager, at jrodriguez@richmondpromise.org or (510) 620-6531 as soon as possible to let us know about this change. If you wait too long, it may put a delay on your scholarship being sent to your college.

Additionally, if you want support getting to a college you want to attend but are having difficulties with financial aid or for other reasons, please contact Jessica Rodriguez, the Richmond Promise Program Manager, at jrodriguez@richmondpromise.org or (510) 620-6531. We want to support you get to the college you want to attend and can assist you navigate the process. 

3.  When will I receive my Richmond Promise scholarship?

If you have turned in all the necessary documents on time (See: What do I need to do to receive my Richmond Promise scholarship?), your scholarship will be received by your school in late August/early September 2017. Once the school receives the scholarship, they will take time to process the award and apply it to your financial aid package, so we cannot guarantee a specific day that the money will be made available to you.

  • 2-Year Colleges: If you are attending a 2-year college, your scholarship will be split between fall and spring semester. You should receive the first half in October 2017 and the second half in February 2018.
  • 4-Year Colleges: If you are attending a 4-year college, your scholarship will be given to you your first semester in one lump sum. You should receive the full scholarship amount in September 2017.

If you encounter any issues receiving your scholarship, please contact your school’s financial aid advisor or Jessica Rodriguez, the Richmond Promise Program Manager, at jrodriguez@richmondpromise.org or (510) 620-6531. 

4.  Will my Richmond Promise scholarship be a direct check to me?

No. The Richmond Promise scholarship will be processed by Scholarship America, the scholarship organization working with the Richmond Promise, and sent to your college. First the scholarship will be applied to your tuition, other school fees, or loans. If there is any extra award left over, it will be given to you by your school in the form of a check or directly sent to your bank account if you set up electronic funds transfer (EFT) with your school. 

5.  What can my Richmond Promise Scholarship be used for?

The scholarship may be used for the total cost of attendance as defined and calculated by the college and university you attend, which includes: tuition and fees, books, supplies, food and housing, transportation, and other education-related expenses.

If funds are still available after being applied to your tuition, other school fees, or loans, any extra amount may be given to you in a check from your school for books, school supplies, food and housing, transportation, or other education-related expenses. 

6.  What happens if I am not attending school this fall but will start this upcoming spring or next fall?

We understand that many situations come up that may prevent you from attending school in the fall as you planned; however, if you need extra support getting to school in the fall, please contact Jessica Rodriguez, the Richmond Promise Program Manager, at jrodriguez@richmondpromise.org or (510) 620-6531.

If you still cannot attend school this fall, no worries – you can still receive the Richmond Promise Scholarship the following fall 2018 (the beginning of next school year). You will still qualify to receive the scholarship if you turn in the necessary documents (See: What do I need to do to receive my Richmond Promise scholarship?) by July 28, 2017 and are not over 21 years old when you begin receiving the scholarship. Unfortunately, we cannot begin giving you the scholarship in spring 2018. 

7.  What do I need to do once I’m in college to remain eligible for the Richmond Promise scholarship?

Congrats on starting your college journey! We are here to help encourage you to take advantage of the college experience and be as successful as possible. That’s why in order to remain eligible for renewal of the Richmond Promise scholarship you must:

1.   Be enrolled full-time at an accredited, non-profit 2-year or 4-year college or university, or CTE program. Full-time is usually 12 units/credits per semester or quarter.

2.  Be in good academic standing with your college or university (as defined by your college).

3. Participate in at least one extracurricular, academic support, volunteer, or work/internship activity.

4. Participate in a college support or advising program (e.g. EOP, Upward Bound). 

5. Re-apply each year to renew your Richmond Promise Scholarship. We will be in touch in March 2017 with the new application!

CLASS OF 2016 RICHMOND PROMISE SCHOLARS: RENEWAL PROCESS QUESTIONS

1.  When can I reapply for the Richmond Promise scholarship?

You will be notified via email on March 31, 2017 on how to reapply for the Richmond Promise scholarship. The deadline to reapply is July 1, 2017. 

2.  What do I need to do to reapply to the Richmond Promise scholarship?

For requirements to remain eligible for the Richmond Promise scholarship see: What do I need to do once I’m in college to remain eligible for the Richmond Promise scholarship?

In order to complete a renewal Richmond Promise application, you must:

1.   Log into the Richmond Promise renewal application via our website with the same account (username and password) you used when you first applied for the scholarship as a senior in high school.

2.  Complete a FAFSA or the CA Dream Act application by March 2, 2017. You must upload your Student Aid Report (SAR) or CA Dream Act Student Aid Report (CalSAR) as a .pdf, .jpg, or .png file. You receive your SAR or CalSAR after completing the FAFSA or Dream Act. If you need assistance completing the FAFSA or CA Dream Act, ask your college’s financial aid office for available resources or review resources under our Paying for College page. 

3.  What happens once I successfully renew my Richmond Promise scholarship?

You must turn in all necessary documents by July 28, 2017. The scholarship payment process will follow the same timing as last year.

Answers to questions regarding when your school will be receiving your scholarship, how you can use it, etc. can be found in the section: I received the Richmond Promise Scholarship! Now what?