Osceola Prosper To Provide Free College or Technical Education to All Students in Class of 2022
Osceola County, Florida ‚Äď Gathered in gymnasiums and auditoriums across Osceola County‚Äôs public high schools Monday ‚Äď the first day after Spring Break -- students, teachers and administrators had no idea why.
It was a life-changing announcement. Osceola County Commissioners‚Äô launch of a more than $12.4 million transformational program known as Osceola Prosper will allow every 2022 graduating senior a free college or technical education through Valencia College and Osceola Technical College (oTECH). CareerSource Central Florida is helping to support funding aspects of skills training.
‚ÄúThe Osceola County Commission wants you to succeed. We believe you can succeed. And we‚Äôve got your back, so you can succeed,‚ÄĚ Osceola Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington told students at Liberty and Poinciana high schools. ‚ÄúThis is an incredible graduation gift and it celebrates each and every one of you. It‚Äôs my hope that this helps you achieve your dreams ‚Äď or even to dare to dream for something you never thought possible before today.‚ÄĚ
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Osceola County has provided millions of dollars for career training and education. Monday morning‚Äôs action by a County government is a level of support unseen in Florida -- or the nation, officials said.
Prior to a press conference in front of the Historic Courthouse on Monday, all five commissioners made early morning visits to 10 public high school and announced the program during pep rallies that saw an outpouring of emotion as students realized the unlimited possibilities.
‚ÄúI was surprised in the beginning, thinking ‚ÄėThere‚Äôs no way they're giving us free college for two years with no strings attached!,‚Äô but it‚Äôs very true! And it‚Äôs a once in a lifetime opportunity,‚ÄĚ said Kayla Crossfield, a 17-year-old Liberty High senior. ‚ÄúI was planning on going on scholarships and financial aid and maybe borrow money, but now I can go for free, it‚Äôs a blessing.‚ÄĚ
The program is open to all members of the 2022 graduating class from Osceola County high schools, charter schools, alternative high schools, private schools, or home schooling.
‚ÄúI want to thank the Osceola County Commissioners for their determination to make college or technical training possible for every graduating senior in the county. This is an incredible gift and a dream come true,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Kathleen Plinske, Valencia College president. ‚ÄúWe know that post-secondary education ‚Äď whether it‚Äôs an industry certification or a college degree ‚Äď makes a huge difference in the earning potential of high school graduates. Osceola Prosper represents a tremendous investment, not just in the students and their families, but in the county‚Äôs economic prosperity.‚ÄĚ
To qualify students must:
Apply to Valencia or Osceola Technical College and register for at least one course, an Accelerated Skills Training program, or an Osceola Technical Program in Summer 2022, Fall 2022, or Spring 2023.
Complete the 2022-23 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by July 15, 2022 (for fall enrollment), or by December 1, 2022 (for spring enrollment). Students not eligible to complete the FAFSA may self-certify they are not able to do so.
Through Osceola Prosper, Osceola County will provide:
Free application to Valencia College
Scholarships to cover tuition and fees not otherwise covered by other grants or scholarships for one credential (Associate in Arts degree, Associate in Science degree, Technical Certificate, Accelerated Skills Training, Vocational Training).
In addition, the county will offer a $500 stipend to support related expenses for students who demonstrate financial need.
The County is following through on a previously approved strategy to use ARPA funds to have a long-term transformational impact on the community.
More information, including FAQs and contact information, is available at OsceolaProsper.com.