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College tuition support programs

Health Factors: Education
Decision Makers: Educators State Government Nonprofit Leaders
Evidence Rating: Insufficient Evidence
Population Reach: 1-9% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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College tuition support programs provide some level of college tuition or financial aid support to students who complete high school, sometimes also requiring a specific GPA level or other criteria. Programs may also include support services to assist students in completing their studies. Examples of these programs include: Graduation Really Achieves Dreams (GRAD), Kalamazoo Promise, Florida Bright Start, Georgia HOPE, Tennessee HOPE, and South Carolina educational lottery.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Improved rates of college attendance
Improved college eligibility and academic credits earned
Improved enrollment in college prep classes
Improved likelihood of meeting college requirements

Evidence of Effectiveness

To date, little evidence is available to demonstrate the effectiveness of such programs.  Fashola 1998 cites GRAD as effective in increasing rates of college attendance. IES WWC (Project GRAD) reports evidence of effectiveness of this program on dropout prevention, but reports no discernable effects of Project GRAD on staying in school, progressing in school, or completing school.

Kalamazoo Promise (initiated in 2005 by anonymous donors) has not yet been evaluated extensively.  Bartik 2012 provides an overview of short-term outcomes and possible benefits of the Kalamazoo Promise project.


United States

There are numerous examples of college tuition support programs in the US. A few examples are noted here. Started in 2005, the Kalamazoo Promise offers full scholarships (tuition and mandatory fees) to any public college in Michigan for Kalamazoo residents who have completed all of their high school schooling in the city’s public school system. Georgia and Indiana subsidize college tuition through Project Hope, which is merit based, and 21st Century Scholars, targeting low income students. Other programs, such as GRAD, offer smaller set amounts for tuition in a number of states.

Implementation Resources

GA HOPE - GAcollege411. Georgia's HOPE scholarship program overview. Accessed on February 24, 2016
GRAD - Project GRAD. The nation's largest college access program for students in low-income areas, opening the doors to college with academic, community and financial assistance. Accessed on February 24, 2016
Kalamazoo Promise - The Kalamazoo Promise. Accessed on March 3, 2016

Citations - Evidence

Bartik 2012 - Bartik T, Lachowska, M. The short-term effects of the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship on student outcomes. W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. 2012: Working Paper 12-186. Accessed on November 30, 2015
Fashola 1998* - Fashola OS, Slavin RE. Effective dropout prevention and college attendance programs for students placed at risk. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk. 1998;3(2):159-83. Accessed on February 5, 2016
IES WWC - What Works in Education Clearinghouse (WWC). Find what works. Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Accessed on June 1, 2018

Page Last Updated

January 1, 2011

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