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Kalamazoo Promise expanding to private Michigan colleges

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The Kalamazoo Promiseis expanding to include more than a dozen private colleges in Michigan.

The Promise provides scholarship money for Kalamazoo public school students to attend college. Until now, the Promise has made it possible for students to afford only public colleges and universities. 

But today, the Promise’s Janice Brown announced 15 schools, including Detroit Mercy, Hillsdale College, Hope College and Adrian College, will start matching Promise scholarships beginning in the fall of 2015.

“We’re doing this so that more students can have choice and can achieve their dream,” says Brown.

During the past decade, more than $54 million has been awarded to 3,286 Kalamazoo public school graduates to pay tuition at 58 public colleges and universities in Michigan.

Last fall, 41 Kalamazoo public school graduates were attending one of the 15 schools added to the Promise.

Bob Bartlett is the CEO of the Michigan Colleges Alliance. He admits it’s unclear how many Kalamazoo public school graduates will choose to use their Promise scholarship money to attend one of the 15 small private colleges that make up an educational archipelago across Michigan.

“There’s nothing right now that can predict what that influx will be,” says Bartlett. “I personally think it’s going to be an evolution.”

Tuition at the 15 private colleges averages around $28,000 a year. The Promise scholarship will cover about half of that.  Bartlett says the schools will cover the balance. He says that’s roughly the same amount the schools cover for their average student.

Jay Valikodath is a 2010 Kalamazoo Central High School graduate and a 2014 graduate of Western Michigan University. 

Growing up poor , Valikodath says he thought obtaining a college degree was going to be impossible. 

“The announcement of the Kalamazoo Promise changed my life,” says Valikodath. “Not only my life, but the lives of all my classmates.”

He says he will be starting his career with a job in Chicago without a dollar of debt.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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