TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - More than 80,000 people who live in Pima County lack a high school diploma, that is according to the most recent statistics from U.S. Census Bureau.
This week, Pima Community College is recognizing the National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week to bring awareness to the problem and encourage those who have d ropped out of school to come back.
Regina Suitt is the vice president for PCC's Adult Basic Education for College and Career program.
She said the program serves about 5,000 students a year. Suitt also estimated about 14 percent of Pima County's population doesn't have a high school diploma or GED.
Twenty-six year old Richard Mathews is part of that statistic. He d ropped out of high school at 17. He regrets that decision.
"I thought I knew the world," said Mathews. "Plus, my mother needed help (financially)."
He tried taking the GED test several times, but couldn't pass. He told Tucson News Now that this time will be different.
"I have kids now and I'd be a hypocrite if I told my kids 'hey finish school' and they like 'hey dad you don't have a diploma. So who are you to tell me?'"
Mathews is just one of thousands of local stories.
"There are a lot of reasons why someone d rops out," Suitt explained. "I think a lot of people don't come back because of that, they might be embarrassed or ashamed, so if there wasn't that stigma, maybe it would be easier."
Suitt added one of the things most people don't know about the college's program is that GED prep classes are offered for free. However, it costs a total of $140 to take the GED test.
For more information, visit https://www.pima.edu/programs-courses/adult-education/.
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