By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker
Detroit high school graduates will receive guaranteed free tuition to attend community college under a plan announced today by Mayor Mike Duggan.
The money comes from the Detroit Promise Zone, a program to capture a portion of the education property taxes to offer scholarships. The Detroit Regional Chamber will match the funds.
The tax zones were created by the-Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 10 cities with high poverty rates. Duggan and the City Council created the authority last fall.
More than 4,000 Detroit students are expected to graduate from high school this year, and all will be eligible for free tuition at one of five schools – Henry Ford Community College, Wayne County Community College District, Schoolcraft College, Macomb Community College and Oakland Community College.
Students who attend public, private or charter schools are eligible to receive the scholarships, regardless of GPA.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a high school senior preparing for college now or a second-grader whose college career is years away,” Duggan said today. “The Detroit Promise will be there to help make a college education a reality. My hope is that this promise is just the beginning and that we’ll be able to raise enough money to promise every Detroit high school student four years of tuition-free education at our public universities.”
Under the plan, students must apply for financial aid and accept state and federal grants. The Promise Zone scholarship would pick up the rest of the tuition.
The state approved the plan on Monday.
Detroit Promise will help students and parents apply for grants and financial aid.
“We now have three years of helping hundreds of Detroit students go to college through the Detroit Scholarship Fund,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We welcome the Detroit Promise as a powerful example of collaboration and what we can achieve when we work together, and also as a permanent, dedicated funding source – a guarantee that kids will be able to go to college, no matter their family’s economic status.
“Increasing educational attainment in our largest city is critical to the region’s competitiveness and growth.”
The Detroit Promise Zone Authority Board Chairwoman Penny Bailer said the scholarships will create more opportunities for cash-strapped students.
“A family’s financial situation is no longer a roadblock to our city’s young people getting the education that they need in order to live productive lives and lead successful careers,” Bailer said. “We are confident that Detroit’s future will be even brighter now that our city’s future leaders will be able to go to college at no cost.”
For more information on the plan, click here.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.