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At least 600 Detroit graduates take advantage of scholarships to attend community colleges

From The Detroit News

By Jennifer Chambers 

October 7, 2013

Detroit— About 600 Detroit high school graduates are attending community college this fall compliments of the Detroit Scholarship Fund.

Greg Handel with the Detroit Regional Chamber that administers the scholarship that covers tuition said 590 students have registered full time with one of five Metro Detroit community colleges. The number could grow as college officials report back figures.

About 4,500 graduates were eligible for the scholarship created by Gov. Rick Snyder, who in 2011 announced his plan to provide every young person in Detroit with financial assistance toward a two-year associate degree or technical certificate.

The governor’s office is helping to fund the program with private donations to the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation. It covers the difference between the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees at five community colleges, and the amount of federal Pell grants and state Tuition Incentive Program funds offered to students.

Participating schools are Wayne County Community College District and Macomb Community, Schoolcraft, Oakland Community and Henry Ford Community colleges.

The program was open to students from Detroit Public Schools, the Education Achievement Authority or dozens of self-governing, charter, private, alternative and parochial schools in the city. Students must have attended any high school in Detroit for at least two years prior to graduation.

Handel, senior director for education and talent programs for the chamber, said 60 to 70 percent of scholarship recipients have all costs covered by Pell Grants, a federal program that awards scholarships based on income levels. The remaining have some costs covered by Pell and the remainder covered by the scholarship program.

“The idea is to utilize existing resources. Hopefully we are inducing students to go to school who thought they couldn’t afford it,” Handel said.

The chamber is working on developing student retention programs with the colleges, Handel said.

“We know a lot of work needs to be done. It’s not enough to ensure you are paying for school. You need to do a lot to ensure academic success,” he said.

NaTere’a Jones, 19 and an Osborn High School graduate, is studying nursing at WCCC.

“It’s nice at school. Without the scholarship, it would have been harder to afford school,” Jones said. “This scholarship really helps out a lot.”