City's Free College Effort Has "Long Way To Go"

The Detroit News

Detroit - After $10 million has been spent over 10 years in a program to help Detroit students attend college for free, only about 1 in 5 students have graduated.

Officials worry the limited outreach of the Detroit Promise, a scholarship program that offers to pay college tuition costs for students who graduate from any high school in the city, is another struggle in Detroit's effort to arm historically disadvantaged populations with a post-secondary credential as the scholarship marks its 10-year anniversary.....

.....In 2016, the scholarship launched the Detroit Promise Path program to help more community college students graduate. It included a $50 monthly stipend and a coach to help students navigate issues and stay on track to graduation. The program was evaluated over three years by MDRC, a New York-based education and social policy research group, and compared it with students who did not get extra supports.

But the results showed more work needed to be done: Only 7.2% of the students in the Promise Path earned certificates or a degree within three years, compared with 6.8% of those who received tuition alone.

Researchers attributed the low success to economic issues not always faced by other students who attend college: lack of transportation, inability to pay rent, having to work to support the family and child care issues. Detroit Promise officials added that students who had coaches earned more credits and were more likely to be enrolled fulltime, and that is why all Detroit Promise students are assigned a coach, get the stipend and other support.....