DALLAS -- Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) and The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) announced their partnership for the 13th annual "¡Lánzate! / Take Off!" Program, which will provide selected Latino college students with a designated number of trips on Southwest Airlines to travel home to see family. Applicants must show economic need and be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at least 200 miles from home. Students can submit applications through April 14, 2017, at www.hacu.net.
Education advocates and HACU leaders from across the country will form a diverse selection panel this summer to choose the 2017 program recipients. For more information about the program, please visit the HACU website.
HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores praised the long-running partnership with Southwest Airlines as an important tool to keep high-achieving Latino students connected to their families while completing their collegiate or graduate-level studies.
"It is important for every student to be able to count on the emotional support of their family while away at college. This is especially true for Hispanic students, many of whom are the first in their family to attend an institution of higher education," Flores said. "The ¡Lánzate! Travel Award Program, a successful partnership between HACU and Southwest Airlines for over a decade, keeps students close to the people who are their biggest supporters in their journey to a degree."
Christine Ortega, Southwest Airlines Senior Advisor for Community Affairs & Grassroots, echoed that sentiment, highlighting the value a family visit can have on a student's decision to stay in school.
"We know that college can be an amazing experience, but it can also be very difficult," Ortega said. "Many of our participants have told us the travel award helped keep them in school as opposed to dropping out because they missed their home and family. At Southwest, we are passionate about connecting people to what's important in their lives and proud that we can play a small role in helping so many Latino students fulfill their dreams."
More than 1,900 roundtrips have been awarded to students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees since the program's inception in 2005.