In a boost for Detroit’s education situation, Mayor Mike Duggan announced today that going forward, every Detroit high school graduate will be guaranteed two years of tuition-free college education.

Students who qualify for the scholarship can attend one of five community colleges in the area:

  • Henry Ford Community College
  • Wayne County Community College District
  • Schoolcraft College
  • Macomb Community College
  • Oakland Community College

The scholarship fund is possible because of the Detroit Promise Zone, a program created during the Granholm administration. Under Promise Zone legislation, Detroit can use a portion of state education taxes generated in the city to offer scholarships to students.

The Detroit Promise Zone is open to students in private, public, or charter schools in the City of Detroit. To qualify for the program, students must have attended high school in Detroit for at least their junior and senior years and graduated.

The Promise Zone legislation requires a private organization to fund two years of scholarships before any taxes can be captured.

In 2013, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF) took on that challenge and created the Detroit Scholarship Fund. Over the past three years, the Detroit Scholarship Fund has helped nearly 2,000 Detroit high school graduates attend community college, tuition-free.

“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 Michigan Education Excellence Foundation and the Detroit Regional Chamber will continue to fund the scholarships for the next three years until the Detroit Promise Zone tax capture is permitted in 2018.

The Promise Zone Scholarship is a “last dollar” scholarship that covers tuition and fees not covered by federal or state scholarship or grant sources. Before they receive aid under the Promise Zone, students must apply for financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and accept all federal or state grants.

The Detroit Promise Zone Authority Board is comprised of:

  • Chairwoman Penny Bailer, former executive director of City Year Detroit
  • Vice Chairwoman Iris Taylor, retired CEO of Detroit Receiving Hospital
  • Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation
  • Floyd Allen, principal of the Allen Law Group
  • Charlie Beckham, Group Executive of Neighborhoods for the City of Detroit
  • John May partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Hector Hernandez, executive director of economic solutions for Southwest Solutions
  • Wanda Redmond, Detroit Board of Education member.

“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.”

To be considered for the program, students must register for the Detroit Scholarship Fund and submit a FAFSA by June 30.

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