Free college tuition seems like a solution to so many problems. After all, the price of tuition is the No. 1 reason students give for leaving school. And when students don’t finish, they can’t access the many benefits of a college degree. That’s why several presidential candidates have proposed some version of a free college program.
But in Kalamazoo, Michigan, free college isn’t a proposal, it’s a reality — and it has been for almost 15 years. Students who live in Kalamazoo and attend its public schools K-12 have their in-state college tuition completely covered. It’s called the Kalamazoo Promise.
The Promise has had some impressive results, but it's only brought Kalamazoo’s college graduation rates up to the Michigan state average. In this episode, we follow the lives of two Promise recipients, Aaliyah Buchanan and Olivia Terrentine, to find out why free tuition has not been the panacea Kalamazoo had hoped it would be.
We always want to hear from you! Please send comments and questions to email@example.com.
Further listening and reading:
Michelle Miller-Adams’s book about the Kalamazoo Promise, The Power of a Promise: Education and Economic Renewal in Kalamazoo, gives in-depth background on the program
MLive’s Kayla Miller introduced us to Aaliyah and wrote a great piece about the Promise last year
The UpJohn Institute has a real trove of data and research about the Promise for anyone who would like to dig further into the numbers
Vox’s explainer on free college in the 2020 race
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Jillian Weinberger, @jbweinz
Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
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