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Scholarship program aims to help Detroit students pay for college

By Jennifer Chambers

From The Detroit News

April 16, 2013

Students graduating this spring from any high school in Detroit have a shot at two years of free community college through the long-anticipated Detroit Scholarship Fund.

The Detroit Regional Chamber is taking the lead role in implementing the scholarship program, created by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The program covers the difference between the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees at any of five Metro Detroit community colleges, and the amount of Pell grants and state Tuition Incentive Program funds offered to students, chamber spokesman James Martinez said.

Schools participating are the Wayne County Community College District, Macomb Community College, Schoolcraft College, Oakland Community College and Henry Ford Community College.

About 6,000 seniors are expected to graduate this spring across the city. The program is open to students from Detroit Public Schools, the Education Achievement Authority or one of dozens of self-governing, charter, private, alternative and parochial schools in the city. Students must have attended any high school in the city for at least two years prior to graduation.

Martinez said the chamber is administering the program at the request of 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. Chamber staff members have already begun presentations to register students at schools.

The program is being funded through private donations through the governor’s office, Martinez said, but the chamber is not fundraising or spending money on the program.

Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for Snyder, said progress is being made on fundraising for the scholarship, but the governor’s office is not releasing details on the amount or its sources. An announcement is expected soon, Buhs said.

“The Promise Scholarship will help improve the lives of Detroiters and Gov. Snyder is excited to get it off the ground. This will provide incentive for kids to do well in school, knowing that they have the opportunity to go to college if they do,” Buhs said.

“This also provides a long-term benefit to the city as these students get the necessary education to land good-paying jobs and choose to raise their families in Detroit.”

Students must complete and submit a Federal Application for Federal Student Aid by June 30 and register for the Detroit Scholarship Fund as well as be admitted to a participating community college.

They also must participate in mandatory student activities outlined by their community colleges, such as orientation sessions, study groups and/or classes on academic success, scholarship officials said.

Once enrolled at a community college, students must complete at least 24 credit hours per year that meet Pell-eligibility, show satisfactory academic progress and maintain satisfactory academic standing.