A Life-Altering Broken Promise

If you feel like you’re in too good of a Friday mood, this will help:

A nonprofit organization that promised a group of Tucson kids a full ride to college has gone back on its word.

In 2005, Arizona Quest for Kids guaranteed 23 local fifth-graders scholarships that would pay four years of tuition equivalent to the cost charged by Arizona’s three public universities.

The students were told they needed to have a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average upon graduating from high school, participate in enrichment programs and meet with a mentor weekly for the next seven years.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit group told the five remaining students that it no longer could provide the funds, and it would instead offer assistance to find scholarships from other sources.

The announcement brought Ileanna Arispuro to tears.

Arispuro, 16, a junior at Pueblo Magnet High School, has been working to keep up her end of the bargain.

“It makes me really mad and sad and frustrated,” Arispuro said. “They promised us the scholarship, and now they say they’ll help us fill our applications?”

Quest blames the economy and tuition increases in Arizona that have outpaced inflation, but claims

David Highmark, the founder of the Quest program, said he hopes no children will be let down.

“We’re not guaranteeing anything, but we feel confident that every child will get that tuition money as promised,” Highmark said. “By definition of the program, they must do well, and that qualifies them for a variety of scholarships and aid.”

In what universe does a 3.0 GPA make it likely that a high school student will be able to attain a full-ride scholarship? Hopefully either some philanthropically inclined rich person will hear about this and step up, or Quest will feel enough heat to dip into its diminished coffers and follow through on its promise.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.