Free College for Detroit High School Grads

Starting this year there is a new incentive for kids to graduate from high school: any graduating high school senior who is accepted to one of Detroit’s five community colleges won’t have to pay a dime for tuition. It’s a huge move to better educate the youth of Detroit.

The Detroit Promise Zone program, which officially launched on Tuesday, is behind the opportunity. At first the funds will come from a private scholarship foundation that will support the kids education. But then, starting in 2018, some of the money will come from property taxes which are already earmarked for the program.

The hope is that the program will help make college a goal for kids in Detroit. The ultimate goal will be for the program to cover the cost of a four-year college for those that qualify.

There are specifics to be eligible. Each student must have completed their junior and senior years at a public, private or charter high school in Detroit. It does not include those that homeschool. The program is not based on how much their family earns, rather the student must fill out the federal financial aid form called the FAFSA to be considered. The Detroit program will then pick up the difference after any other federal and state grants and scholarships have been used towards college.

Right now about 500 students are expected to take advantage of the program and enroll at a community college each fall. It’s just an estimate but officials feel it is a accurate estimate.

On average it will also cost an average of $680 per person (annually) but also each scholarship amount will vary depending on how much in other awards the student received.

The privately funded Detroit Scholarship program is already in place and has granted 2,000 students free tuition over the past three years. It’s just a program that is talked about much. The Michigan Education Excellence Foundation raised the funds from a mix of companies, charitable foundations, and individuals.

However, the Detroit Promise Zone has officially launched now and scholarship funding will eventually move away from private donations toward earmarked tax funds.

Tuition-free college is an idea that’s gaining traction in many areas of the county. While President Obama has pushed for it nationally, Tennessee made community college tuition-free for graduating seniors last fall, and Oregon is set to launch a similar program next year. However the rest of the country is still lagging.

High school seniors must register for the Detroit Scholarship Fund online by June 30 to be eligible. Make sure you pass on the information to those that can benefit from this opportunity.

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