Promise Programs: Making Free College Tuition a Reality

Promise Programs have grown from one city, Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 2005 to over three dozen currently.  Promise communities range in size from Northport, MI – population 526 -- to Pittsburgh, PA – population 305,842 – and are in 18+ states, plus statewide programs in Tennessee and Oregon.  They are delivering what they promised -- more college attendance and completion, plus a talented workforce that helps to grow the economy.  Find out more about the benefits of a Promise Program, view here.

new_map.png“Promise” is not just the latest buzzword in higher education policy.  Programs that guarantee free college tuition for residents of a community or state are a proven and powerful tool to simultaneously improve high school and college performance among all income and ethnic groups. When young students learn that their educational aspirations need not be limited by the financial circumstances of their family, their desire to succeed increases and the institutions that support them also step up their game to assure student success. 

That is why the center of the Campaign for Free College Tuition’s national plan to make all two and four year colleges tuition free is called a National Promise Scholarship. It’s the same reason why President Obama called his plan to make the nation’s community colleges tuition free, America’s College Promise.  Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee named his initiative that made all of that state’s community colleges tuition free, the Tennessee Promise, and Oregon named their bill the Oregon Promise, for the very same reason. And it’s the reason why the original promise program in Kalamazoo has been able to enroll its public school students in college at rates greater than their non-public school counterparts. It’s also why dozens of local communities are investing resources in promise programs for their residents.  


Promise Programs in the USA

Program (links) Merit Based Criteria? Description

Don't see a Promise Program near you? Interested in learning more about college affordability or working towards making college free in your community? Lumina is sponsoring conversations about college affordability around the country. Check out their map to find an organization near you and engage in productive dialogue around college affordability in your region. There are 75 programs around the nation!  




Campaign for Free College Tuition

The Campaign for Free College Tuition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in the State of Washington in 2014 to educate parents, students, the higher education community, policy makers and taxpayers about efforts needed to fundamentally reform our nation’s system for financing higher education. This website and CFCT’s educational outreach activities are made possible through generous individual and foundation support.

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