Detroit Launches Free College Degree Program, Will It Work?

Detroit has recently hit the headlines with the promise it has made to all high school students, this being that provided they graduate there will be funding available for them to attend the first two years of college absolutely free.

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The reason that Detroit city can make this offer is due to one of the programs that is already assisting Detroit students with their college education, will become eligible for constant funding and therefore guaranteeing free tuition or an associate degree for every single student that graduates from a school within the boundaries of Detroit city.

This is not all, there has also been a trial program started with the aim to provide some Detroit students with scholarships in order for them to earn a 4-year degree.

College officials also made the announcement earlier in the week that a 2-year scholarship program for Detroit students would be available constantly through the Detroit Promise Zone, an appointment that was made law during the time of Gov. Jennifer Granholm which meant that Detroit could use part of the state education taxes in the city to provide scholarships. This is to become known as the Detroit Promise.

During a recent press conference Mike Duggan, the mayor confirmed that the city was making a promise to each and every child who graduates that they will be entitled to have the first two years of their college tuition paid for and they would attend free of charge. Duggan went on to confirm that regardless of the grade a child was currently in they can be promised that when their time comes the will have the first two years of college paid for simply because they have graduated from a school based in the city of Detroit.

Both of the scholarships that are on offer will build on the Detroit Scholarship Fund further, which has already seen over 1,500 students study for their degrees. Funded by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation in conjunction with other foundations the scholarship fund has been offered for many years. The scholarship under the Detroit Promise will fund tuition fees for three years or the time that it takes for the individual to earn their associate degrees and it will be those graduating in 2016 that will be the first students eligible for this new program.

The Michigan Education Excellence Foundation combined with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the majority of the state’s public universities, some private colleges, and the Detroit Regional Chamber will be coming together to offer a four-year scholarship program.

Those students covered by the Detroit Promise, can attend one of five community colleges once they have graduated to obtain their 2-year degree. The colleges that they can choose from our Wayne, Oakland, Henry Ford, Macomb or Schoolcraft college. Those students who are eligible have to apply for a program no longer than one year after graduation and they have to undertake a full time course with a minimum 12 credit hours each semester.

Every year approximately 4,500 students graduate from high school in Detroit. The Detroit Promise will work with the students to ensure that they have filed all the correct financial aid forms and it will then cover the remaining tuition fees. Currently there are more than 25,000 students that are attending high school out of the city and the hope is that with this dedicated tax funding for scholarships it will prove to be a selling point to strengthen the case for Detroit students to attend the city’s schools.

Duggan really feels that Detroit did not move quick enough to offer support to the children and all that they can do moving forwards is to make sure things are in place to make continued education easy. However, under statute the Promise Zone Authority must function for two years and meet all of the criteria shown in its original plan before it can recoup the tax. It has been forecasted by the city that once the tax capture has come into effect it will provide the funding for the next 20-years.