Monica Saldivar entered high school without the expectation of attending TCU afterward.
Although her mother worked for the university for five years as a part of facility services, the idea of Saldivar applying to TCU wasn’t entertained for very long, because of high tuition costs, until they became aware of what the College Resource Committee had to offer.
The committee focuses on informing employees about the free tuition policy for faculty and staff. Tara Perez, head of the committee, said she estimates nearly half of the 202 students attending TCU under the policy are first generation college students.
“Tara told my mom about the benefits of working for TCU and how they could help us,” said Saldivar, a senior at Paschal High School.
The resource committee was created four years ago by Perez, who works in the groundskeeping department, and Darron Turner, staff assembly chair and assistant vice chancellor of student affairs.
According to the TCU benefits policy, if an employee has been working for three years, the tuition benefit will pay full tuition, and employees who work at least 75 percent of full time are eligible for tuition assistance after six months of employment.
“This is a great benefit that a lot of workers weren’t using,” Perez said. “They didn’t know about it. They didn’t know they could have their child go to college and have it paid for.”
The program provides a checklist of what future college students should be aware of, such as when to start taking the SAT or ACT, where to go for tutoring help or when deadlines begin for college applications.
“It helped my mom realize how important it is to go to college,” said Saldivar, who is now working on her TCU application. “Through the program, I learned how to get into Advanced Placement classes and become more involved in clubs at school.”
Thirty other College Resource Committee members assist in spreading the information Perez and Turner started advocating four years ago, Perez said.
“Tara is the person we all want to be and has done a great service in helping these families,” said Joael Kelly, a chair on the committee.
Perez said the program is continuing to grow and the committee is showing students in both middle school and high school what steps they need to take to be accepted into TCU or other community schools like Tarrant County College, where the benefit still applies.
Saldivar, who will graduate from high school in May, said the help of the committee has changed her outlook on college.
“It has made me more hopeful for the future,” she said.