New Haven Promise: City-Yale college tuition boost for qualified high school grads could yield big payoff
The Hartford Courant
November 13, 2010
The " New Haven Promise" scholarship program was introduced Tuesday by a press release calling it "the most significant announcement ever to be made" in the city. The breathtaking commitment by Yale University (at some $4 million per year) and the city of New Haven just might deserve such immodesty. It is rich with, well, promise.
College dollars for high school scholars is not a new idea — there are about 20 similar scholarship programs in the nation — but it's a great one for giving kids hope for their future.
Here's what was announced by Mayor John DeStefano and Yale President Richard Levin: The program, funded primarily by Yale, will pay 100 percent of tuition costs each year at any state college or university for qualified New Haven high school graduates, starting with current high school freshmen who meet the eligibility requirements.
The free ride, which is part of Mayor DeStefano's "School Change" reform, is available to residents of New Haven who maintain a 3.0 grade point average in high school and a 2.5 in college. They must have an attendance rate of at least 90 percent in high school, complete 40 hours of community service before they graduate and not have a bad disciplinary record.
The program will also pay up to $2,500 to students whose tuition is covered under other scholarships and to students who attend private colleges in Connecticut, including Yale.
The aid is not need-based, in line with Yale policy; and, in keeping with Mr. DeStefano's position, will be open to undocumented immigrants. Yale's commitment after the first four classes graduate will be renewed year by year provided the program accomplishes its mission.
New Haven Promise is modeled after Kalamazoo Promise, which has reached 82 percent of eligible graduates and produced amazing results in five years. Public school enrollment in the Michigan city increased, math and reading test scores rose, the dropout rate decreased and the taxable value of homes rose.
Kalamazoo kids did better in high school because they could see a clear route to college.
New Haven Promise can't help but bring families back into the city, stabilize neighborhoods, pump life into the schools, reduce crime, strengthen the work force and give hope to bright kids who might have had their college dreams dashed for lack of money.
It's a winning proposition for New Haven, for Yale University and for possibly thousands of young students who will be handed a golden opportunity.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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