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Grand Rapids students could get free tuition for city's community college this year

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss at a podium
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss speaks about Grand Rapids Proise Zone

Students who live and go to school in the city of Grand Rapids could soon be eligible to get tuition covered at Grand Rapids Community College.

The Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority is working with all 22 high schools in the city, including public, public-charter and private schools.

Students who live in the city and go to school in the city for 10-12th grade are eligible for free tuition. Students who only fit those criteria for 11-12th grade can get half of their tuition at GRCC paid for.

The Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority wants to help the city’s 1,300 high school seniors go to college without taking on a lot of debt.

Teresa Weatherall Neal, the former Superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools and member of the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority Board, which is responsible for designing the scholarship program, says the scholarships will cover tuition, books, and fees for students.

“We know that there are fees for children when they go off to college and so for us, private and public, to come together to say we’re going to remove that barrier is a big deal,” Weatherall Neal says.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss says she’s hoping the scholarship program is finalized for the class of 2020.

“The students who are going to be walking down that aisle in just a few months, and hopefully then will walk into the doors at GRCC come the fall,” Bliss says.

Mayor Bliss says establishing scholarships for a promise zone in Grand Rapids was one of her biggest goals when she was re-elected in November.

“I am confident that we’ll be able to raise the money that we need and this scholarship will be available come fall of this year,” she says.

The Grand Rapids Promise Zone needs to raise about $3 million to fully fund the scholarship program for the first five years.

Bill Pink, the president of GRCC, says the college has already pledged $500,000 in scholarships for the promise zone program.

School officials say the promise zone scholarships still need approval from the Michigan Department of Treasury, but they are expecting to get that approval within the next 60 days.

Here is a full list of the eligible schools:

  • Grand Rapids City High School
  • Grand Rapids University Prep
  • Innovation Central High School
  • Ottawa Hills High School
  • Union High School
  • Grand Rapids Montessori High School
  • C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy
  • Grand Rapids Public Museum School
  • Grand Rapids Learning Center
  • Southwest Community Campus High School (Opens 2020-2021)
  • Southeast Career Pathways
  • Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School
  • Sacred Heart Academy High School
  • Grand Rapids Christian High School
  • West Catholic High School
  • Grand Rapids Adventist Academy
  • Wellspring Preparatory High School
  • Hope Academy of West Michigan
  • Grand Rapids Covenant House Academy
  • NorthPointe Christian High School
  • Plymouth Christian High School
  • Lake Michigan Academy

For more information, you can visit GRPromiseZone.com

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Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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