In July we documented the impact of the “Kalamazoo Promise” program. Begun in 2006, this program covers 100% of the cost of tuition at selected colleges in Michigan for any student who graduated from the Kalamazoo public schools.
Now Wayne State University has announced a similar program, the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge. Detroit residents who have earned a high school diploma or any graduate of a Detroit high school will be eligible, starting in Fall 2020, to receive last-dollar funding from Wayne State University. They must be admitted as a first-time, full-time student, but after that, Wayne State pledges to match the gap between tuition and mandatory fees after all other sources of aid are applied.
In the quest to increase not just access but also affordability to high school graduates, the Heart of Detroit Pledge definitely has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of students, and on the local economy. How large an impact remains uncertain. Recall that the Kalamazoo Promise had a positive impact overall, but wasn’t enough to help many of its recipients to overcome other social and personal barriers.