These 10 Tuition-Free “College Promise” Programs Are Changing Our Country’s Future

Boston Bridge (Boston, MA)

photo by walsarabi via Pixabay

To provide teenagers a pathway to future prosperity, Boston and state officials announced an initiative in May 2017 to allow high school graduates from low-income families in Boston to attend community colleges and state universities for free.

The Boston Bridge is a collaboration between the city’s Tuition-Free Community College Plan and the state’s Commonwealth Commitment program.

Through the Boston Bridge, you can attend community college and then transfer to a four-year college to finish your bachelor’s degree at no cost.

The Boston Bridge program is open to low-income graduates of the city’s school system as well as those from charter and parochial schools, starting with this year’s graduates.

Here’s what the people responsible for the Boston Bridge program had to say:

  • “We wanted to be able to say to kids in the city of Boston, particularly Pell Grant eligible kids, if you go to RoxCup, or Mass Bay, or Bunker Hill, you can travel a path here that will get you to a two year or four year degree without you having to put money on the table to pull it off” – Charlie Baker, Governor of Massachusetts (https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/bostonbridge)
  • “What this is all about is not just access to college, it’s not about low cost or affordable college, it’s about college success and completion. This is about encouraging students and providing incentives for students to go to school full time, and complete on-time.” – James Peyser, Massachusetts Secretary of Education (https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/bostonbridge)
  • “Our young people are going to be entrepreneurs, the leaders, the activists, the community organizers the health care professionals, in the future… We need to prepare them not only for high school graduation, we need to be preparing them college, for careers, and for life.” – Tommy Change, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools (https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/bostonbridge)

The Boston Bridge is a pilot program – meaning it may be a limited-time offer – so take advantage while you can! For more information about eligibility and award distribution, visit https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/bostonbridge


Arkadelphia Promise (Arkadelphia, AR)

Part of downtown Arkadelphia – photo by Brandonrush via Wikimedia Commons

Influenced by the success of Arkansas’s existing El Dorado Promise, the Arkadelphia Promise was made possible in 2010 by the Ross Foundation and Southern Bancorp corporation for graduating students of the Arkadelphia High School District in Arkansas.

The goal of the Arkadelphia Promise Scholarship is to increase the college-going rate for local students, reduce the number of students dropping out of college for financial reasons and provide for a more educated workforce.

The Arkadelphia Promise is a game-changing effort – helping to make a college education not just a dream, but a reality for every child in Arkadelphia.

In part, the Arkadelphia Promise is an effort to revitalize and strengthen the city by enticing businesses to locate to the area by creating a pipeline of educated workers through the opportunity to access higher education.

Students must maintain a 2.5 cumulative grade-point average in high school or score a 19 or higher on the ACT, and apply for two scholarships, not including federal, state or Arkadelphia Promise scholarships to qualify for the scholarship. For more information about eligibility and award distribution, visit http://arkadelphiapromise.com/


Hammond Promise (Hammond, IN)

photo by Matt314 via Wikimedia Commons

The College Bound Scholarship Program was first conceived in 2006 and has awarded over 4000 scholarships.

Based on the Kalamazoo Promise, the program focuses on three key principles: increase home ownership, make education a priority, and improve the quality of life within the City.

By offering a “full-ride” college scholarship to its high school graduates, Hammond will become the first city in the nation to invest public dollars in raising the level, importance and performance of its student population, and in the process secure the community’s bright future.

Further, it demonstrates the desire and commitment of the City to take the bold steps necessary to achieve its objective of making Hammond a desirable and attractive community in which to live and invest.

Hammond’s mayor, Thomas Mcdermott Jr., has seen the impact of the program already: “A lot of people that had traditionally people moved south and would move out around the middle school, high-school ages.

I think what the promise has done in Hammond is stabilize that population. We surprised everybody in the 2010 census by maintaining our population of 81,000 people, while at the same time all the cities around Hammond lost population.”

Here’s what some of the recipients had of the Hammond College Bound Promise had to say:

  • “One of the biggest things this program has done for me and my family is set me in a good position, my parents didn’t have any worries about financials. I’m also able to reinvest in Hammond. I’m currently a new homeowner and I just bought a house in Hammond about a month ago.” -Jorge Lopez, Scholarship Recipient http://collegebound.gohammond.com/
  • “College bound afforded me an opportunity to graduate, and take internships, and do whatever I need to do without worrying about a stack of student loans to pay off. It was definitely valuable to me.” -Britnee Gillis, Scholarship Recipient http://collegebound.gohammond.com/
  • “In July of this year, I invested in a home in Hammond, for many reasons. I always felt like I owed something to the city where I came from, where the College Bound program initially started. I wanted to give the same or better musical experiences to the students of Hammond that I had when I was in High School.” -Dan Cummins, Scholarship Recipient http://collegebound.gohammond.com/

The scholarship is renewable for up to four consecutive years to an accredited college or university in the state of Indiana. For more information about eligibility and award distribution, visit http://collegebound.gohammond.com/

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