One of the challenges Detroit faces is education. Not just when it comes to local schools, but the low level of college graduates in the city of Detroit. And nowadays, you most likely need more than a high school education (whether it college or specialized training) to get a good job.

Just 13.1 percent of city residents, per the latest U.S. Census, have a college degree. That compares to 26.4 percent in the state of Michigan, and 29.3 percent nationally.

Detroit Promise, launched in March of this year, is a program that started with funding the two-year education of students. More than 700 class of 2016 high school students from the city of Detroit will be attending community college or university this fall thanks to Detroit Promise.

Detroit Promise is designed to guarantee that in the future every Detroit high school graduate will have the opportunity for two years of tuition-free college education at five local community colleges, whether they graduate from a public, private or charter school.

This commitment was made possible through the Detroit Promise Zone, an authority Mayor Duggan and the Detroit City Council created last fall to dedicate a portion of tax dollars to permanently fund two-year scholarships.

Until the promise zone authority kicks in in 2018, funding is being provided by the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF) as well as other private partners.

“The Detroit Promise is changing lives,” said city of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “This program is one of the most significant ways we are removing barriers to opportunity for young Detroiters so they can realize their full potential in life without the burden of student debt.”

To be clear, the program now offers both two year and four year options.

So how does you or your student qualify?

The pilot program, according to the city and state, will allow any Detroit high school student who graduates with a 3.0 GPA or better, and scores over 21 on ACT or 1060 on SAT, the opportunity to earn a Bachelor’s degree tuition-free. You must be a Detroit resident and attend a Detroit high school for at least two years.

Registration is now open to seniors who live in Detroit and attend any Detroit high school. The final date for registration is February 1 for universities, and June 30 for community colleges.

Detroit Promise staff are also visiting Detroit high schools to explain the program, and interested students can talk to counselors or advisers to get more information.

The Detroit Regional Chamber website has more information on eligibility and to register.

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