LANSING, Mich. - Up to 10 "Promise Zone" authorities, designed to pay for college for students in high-poverty locales, could be created under legislation newly signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, according to The Grand Rapids Press.
The program requires an upfront contribution by donors in a given zone equal to the amount required to send all eligible students to community college for two years, an estimated $4,800 per child, The Press reported. After that, local officials could capture half the annual growth in state education tax revenue generated by any increased property values in the zone, according to The Press.
The program is modeled after the privately funded Kalamazoo Promise, which offers free tuition to Kalamazoo Public Schools graduates to attend a Michigan public university or community college.
"We want to attack the cost of going to college, we want to make sure that all children have access and this is a creative financing way we can ensure that the business community partners with the education community to provide opportunity for all of our children," Granholm said, according to The Press.
Eligible students would have to live within the zone but do not have to attend a public school, according to The Press.
Chuck Wilbur, Granholm's policy advisor, said as real estate values begin to grow again, the state's financial share in the program will increase, the Press reported. Legislative estimates peg the eventual state cost at nearly $16 million annually.
The Grand Rapids Press, "Granholm signs tuition grant zones," Jan. 13, 2009
Michigan Education Report, "Following the lead of the Kalamazoo Promise," Nov. 14, 2007