Mixed Results for Black Students Who Earn Kalamazoo Promise Scholarships

Any student who has been in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, public school system from kindergarten through high school graduation is entitled to a Promise Scholarship. The scholarship program provides full tuition and fees at any state-operated college or university in the state of Michigan. Students who went to Kalamazoo public schools for as little as four years can earn scholarships equal to 65 percent of full tuition and fees.

Students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average in college in order to continue to receive the scholarships. The program was first instituted for the 2006 high school graduating class. That year, 302 students entered college with Promise Scholarships. About 80 percent of those students returned to school this past fall and continued to qualify for their scholarships.

For black women, 66 students from Kalamazoo enrolled in college in 2006 with the benefit of a Promise Scholarship. This year, 42, or 63.6 percent, returned to school. For black men, 51 entered college in the fall of 2006. Only 24, or 47 percent, returned to school this fall.

The scholarship program does seem to be having the beneficial effect of keeping blacks enrolled in high school. This past fall, the number of black graduates from city high schools increased by 43 percent and the number of black students entering college with Promise Scholarships increased by 18 percent.