College of San Mateo has developed the Year One Promise—a program that removes the financial stress while providing important tools for having a successful first year of college. The Year One Promise combines a full scholarship, up to $750 for books, and a dedicated counselor who will work with each student to make an education plan. So far, over 800 students have completed a Year One Promise application.

“What we hope to achieve with our Year One Promise initiative is to think differently about how we connect all first-time, full-time students to our campus community,” says Lizette Bricker, dean of enrollment services & Support Programs at CSM. “The Year One Promise combines financial support and student support so that students have all the tools they need to succeed.”

The Year One Promise includes full tuition for the first year of college (fall, spring and summer semesters), up to $750 towards the costs of textbooks, and mandatory counseling support, workshops, and other services designed to get students off to a good start.

Each Year One Promise student will be evaluated by a CSM counselor based on high school coursework, grades, placement exams and other factors. Some students will be placed in a learning community—a group of students who take classes and study together, forming a tight-knit group that has shown to help student success. Some students will take College One, a course that specifically develops students’ study skills. Other students may place out of these requirements.

In addition, each participating student will be required to work with a counselor to complete a Student Education Plan (SEP), which will plot out which courses a student will take each term in order to make good progress and graduate on time. Check-in meetings with counselors will help to ensure students stay on track.

Students will also be able to choose to attend Pathway to College or Math Jam in the summer at CSM. These one-week classes specifically prepare students for the transition to college or for college-level math and/or science classes. These summer courses also give Year One Promise students an advantage in the fall by giving students some familiarity with campus, student life and a built-in network of support.

“CSM was already the best deal in town,” said CSM President Mike Claire. “Now we are basically making the first year of college free along with a lot of extra help. It doesn’t get any better than that!”

Learn about the CSM Year One Promise at