$5 Million of Phoenix’s COVID Relief Funds Paying For Community College Tuitions

September 10, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

The Phoenix City Council gave $5 million of the city’s COVID-19 recovery funds to the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) Foundation. 

The millions will be distributed to around 400 students with financial need through a newly-launched tuition assistance program, the Phoenix Promise Program. However, the program won’t end once the $5 million of American Rescue Plan Action (ARPA) funding is spent. The city stated last month that they would partner with the MCCD Foundation, along with other, unnamed education institutions, the business community, nonprofits, local governments, and philanthropic organizations to perpetuate the program. 

One of the nonprofits that assisted the city of Phoenix and MCCCD in developing the Phoenix Promise Program was Aliento, an illegal immigrant activist organization. The Arizona House awarded a proclamation to the organization for its service to “mixed-document” backgrounds in June.

The city first approved this initial $5 million allocation in early June, followed by a contract with MCCD Foundation at the end of August. The first tuition assistance payments will be awarded for the upcoming Spring 2023 semester, and will be awarded each semester through Spring 2025. About $280,000 of the $5 million will go to administrative costs. 

Each Phoenix Promise Program recipient will receive $965 each semester. In addition to tuition, recipients may use their funds to pay for books, fees, technology, supplies, transportation, food, and childcare. 

The program will also provide recipients with an academic advisor; exclusive access to workshops, boot camps, tutoring, counseling, and other support services; and personalized assistance from MCCCD’s career services. 

During Wednesday’s city council meeting, Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari lamented that illegal immigrant students with deferred deportation — namely Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, also known as DREAMers — don’t qualify for the funding. Ansari disclosed that city and county officials are researching how to secure funding for them. 

“Because this is federal funding, we are unable legally to support our DACA students with it but something we’re looking to do very soon, now that we’ve launched the program, is bringing in other partners,” said Ansari. 

The application deadline for Phoenix Promise Program’s Spring 2023 awards is October 31.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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