Does the Kalamazoo Promise Work? The Wall Street Journal Investigates
Has the offer of free college for Kalamazoo Public Schools students been a success over the last 13 years? The Wall Street Journal reveals it depends who you are.
More than 300 cities across the country have followed the model of offering free college to public school students started in Kalamazoo in 2005. The Wall Street Journal reports, locally, "since the program took effect in June 2006, they [Kalamazoo Promise administrators] have paid $124 million in tuition subsidies for 5,735 students." But are they finishing college and earning a diploma?
The Upjohn Institute tells WSJ, since the initiation of the promise, "college enrollment has soared across all racial groups. Among all students who graduated from a Kalamazoo public high school from 2006 through 2017, 75% enrolled in college within six months, versus a national average of about 67% and only 58% in Kalamazoo before the program." But the barriers to finishing college are more than financial. Other handicaps are "high rates of single-parent households, teen pregnancy and homelessness," researchers have found.
The challenges that people bring with them to education because of poverty don’t just go away because we say we’re going to pay for college education.
-Bob Jorth, Kalamazoo Promise Executive Director