Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Detroit Students Struggle To Earn Degrees Despite Financial Help

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Image credit: MD Duran/Unsplash

The Detroit Promise program is intended to help city’s students attain higher education degrees and certificates but without additional resources, the program isn’t enough.

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Detroit youth face significant challenges when it comes to successfully graduating from high school and attending college. For decades, it’s been an issue defined more by obstacles than by achievement. But in recent years, big programs have been rolled out to help change the trajectory of Detroit students trying to attain a degree or certificate. The Detroit Promise program offers to pay full college tuition for any Detroit student who graduates from high school in Detroit and has lived in the city for at least their junior and senior years. And there are other programs out there to help cover the cost of college for Detroiters. But are those efforts making much of a difference?

Listen: Detroit News higher education reporter Kim Kozlowski on the impact of the Detroit Promise program on students in the city.


Kim Kozlowski is the higher education reporter for The Detroit News. In discussing a new study, which looked at the Detroit Promise program, Kozlowski says the study ”did show there was some progress made. … But the big takeaway was after three years, the students who got the coach and the stipend were graduating at about the same rate who just got free tuition.” 

As far as what’s getting in the way of students finishing degrees and certificates, Kozlowski says there are many factors including financial problems, transportation, racism, a lack of diversity on campus and a lack of support where they live.

It’s important to go to college, but you need to make it to the finish line,” says Kozlowski, who adds that many students who are enrolled in the Detroit Promise program ”need a little assistance to get them to the finish line.”

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