Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Mon September 19 2016

JetBlue Filled With Pomp And Circumstance

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | September 19, 2016

JetBlue Filled With Pomp And Circumstance

PHOTO: The first batch of JetBlue Scholars have earned their college degree. (Courtesy JetBlue Airways)

JetBlue Airways is like a proud parent these days.

The New York-based airline last week celebrated the first graduates of its JetBlue Scholars program, designed to offer the carrier’s crewmembers the opportunity to earn a fully-accredited associate or bachelor’s degree with JetBlue picking up most of the tab.

This year, 50 crewmembers will earn a college degree through the newly-launched program at a time when college costs are at an all-time high. The average student graduates $33,000 in debt, according to a government data analysis by financial aid experts, Edvisors. And, more than 31 million Americans have some college education and no degree.

JetBlue said recognized this dilemma faced by many of its own crewmembers and charted a new, low-cost, high-quality path to make college affordable again.

“JetBlue Scholars is proof that unbundling the higher education process works. In our first year, 50 students will complete their college degrees,” Bonny Simi, founder of JetBlue Scholars and president of JetBlue Technology Ventures, said in a statement. “Many started college years ago but couldn’t afford to finish. There are pilots, reservation agents, flight attendants, mechanics and administrative staff participating in the program. The average Scholar is 42 and has been out of the classroom for over 20 years. They have tremendous work experience, but no degree.”

JetBlue Scholars program utilizes low cost, high quality alternative college credit options including new technology-based learning platforms such as, and These courses are accepted for college credit at partner school Thomas Edison State University, based in Trenton, N.J.

“Thomas Edison State University’s mission and core work aligns so well with the JetBlue Scholars program, especially our ability to assess college-level knowledge that has been acquired outside the traditional classroom,” said Dr. Mary Ellen Caro, vice president of Enrollment Management and Learner Services at Thomas Edison State University. “It is an honor to partner with JetBlue to help its crewmembers achieve their goals, and we are very proud of the progress that so many crewmembers have made to earn their degrees.”

JetBlue covers the full cost of the degree up to the final semester, and even that cost may be covered by JetBlue scholarships or Pell grants, which mean a degree may be completely free for those in financial need.


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