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Nov 18, 2016 10:48 AM EST

Program Gives Parents Opportunity to Get Community College Education for Free

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A new program gives parents of students in city schools the opportunity to go to community colleges for free, news reports say.

GEAR UP Birmingham, a college-readiness program for students, partnered with the Alabama Community College Association to be able to offer tuition waivers to parents and legal guardians of eighth- and ninth-grade students of Birmingham city schools, AL.com reported.

"We are excited to be able to support our (students') parents in their academic success," GEAR UP Birmingham project director Donna Turner said. "This opportunity will not only positively impact the parent but the student as well."

Turner added that it is important for GEAR UP Birmingham to create an atmosphere that encourages students to go to college. Although the tuition waver program does not cover books, room, board, and education at four-year colleges, it does cover tuition fees at any two-year community college or technical college in Alabama, and will run until 2022. Parents have started enrolling in the program this semester, going to Jefferson State Community College and Lawson State Community College.

Several parents who enrolled in the program said they want to proceed to a four-year college. Turner cited one certain parent who wanted to go back to school but couldn't because she could not afford it. With the help of the program, she is now attending school and is hopeful to proceed to her goal: to be a teacher.

"Once she finishes the program at Jeff State, she will go to UAB to pursue her four-year degree in education," Turner told the Birmingham Times.

The new program doesn't only help parents become better models for their kids, as it  will also help parents get better jobs with higher salaries by allowing them to receive necessary education, said Tamika Bolton, a parent who enrolled in the tuition-waver program.

"It would open doors for greater opportunities on my job, which would allow me to better take care of my daughter. I think that it would also allow me to set a great example for my daughter. She would be able to see, first-hand, the benefits of higher education," Bolton said.

"It would also give me a sense of accomplishment as well," she added.

Research shows that the higher the educational attainment a person has, the higher the likelihood for him or her to earn better wages, which means the opportunity to have better quality of life.

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