‘Tis the season for millions of high school graduates to leave home and begin their college experience. If they’re lucky and have worked hard, they have earned scholarships or have parents who’ve been saving for their education for years. If all goes right, they’ll leave college with no debt.
If they’re not so lucky or haven’t worked so diligently in high school, they’ll graduate with $20,000 to $30,000 in student loan debt, if not more.
The unluckiest of all will graduate with even more student loan debt and will find a job that pays them less per year than they owe overall in student loan debt. There’s just no way to create a realistic budget under those circumstances.
However, if your child has not yet started elementary school, or even if they have but have not yet reached high school, you have the possibility to send them to college for free or at a significant discount.
Sounds great, right?
There’s just one catch–you have to be willing to move to Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The Kalamazoo Promise
The Kalamazoo Promise began in 2005. Simply put, any child who attends a Kalamazoo district school from Kindergarten through 12th grade and graduates will be awarded four years of tuition and mandatory fees to attend any one of the 43 Michigan community colleges, state colleges, or universities.
The scholarship is prorated based on the number of years that your child attends Kalamazoo Public Schools. If your child attends from 4th to 12th grade, he’ll get 90% coverage for four years of tuition and mandatory fees. If he only attends from 9th to 12th grade, he’ll get 65% coverage.
Other Rules You Need to Know
Once at college, a student must enroll for at least 12 credit hours each semester and maintain a 2.0 GPA. They also must be making progress toward a degree.
If a student doesn’t meet these requirements for one semester, she is put on probation. If she doesn’t meet the requirements for another semester, she loses the scholarship until she can prove through an additional semester that she is able to once again meet the requirements.
The scholarship is only available for up to 10 years after graduation.
What If You Don’t Want to Move?
If you want your child to be able to take advantage of the Kalamazoo Promise and you’re not in the Kalamazoo area, you’ll have to move the entire family. In addition, you’ll be making a long-term commitment to Michigan because the scholarship dollars are only good at Michigan colleges and universities.
However, there are programs like this springing up throughout the country. Other programs are in El Dorado, Arkansas; Denver, Colorado; Detroit, Michigan; New Haven, Connecticut; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, though each program has rules that are slightly different.
If you don’t want your child saddled with massive student loan debt, and you haven’t set aside money in a 529 account, there are ways to help your child get a good education without being financially strapped for years. You just need to be willing to think beyond tradition education patterns and be willing to move your family.
Would you move your family to take advantage of a program like the Kalamazoo Promise?