Free college seems like the proverbial white whale for so many aspiring high school students and adults, given how critical college has become for success in today’s world. But in some locations, college without a mountain of debt has become reasonable, and the answer isn’t applying for and getting every single scholarship you can possibly imagine.
Across the country, cities and states are starting to invest in their students, reasoning that a well-educated population can be a major boon for their community. Here are a few places that have chosen to fund higher education.
The first program of its kind in the nation, the “Kalamazoo Promise” rewards those families who complete a full education from kindergarten to high school in Kalamazoo. Upon entering kindergarten at a Kalamazoo public school, students and parents sign a form that pledges that if their student successfully completes each grade at a Kalamazoo public school, the privately-funded program will pay 100 percent of the student’s tuition cost at any college in the state of Michigan. The program began in 2005, and roughly 90 percent of Kalamazoo high school graduates take advantage of the offer, according to the New York Times.
If your family makes under $125,000, you’re eligible to attend any public college in the New York State or City college system for free, thanks to a 2017 program signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to Inside Higher Ed. The program works similar to a student loan, but students repay the funds by living and working in the Empire State for as many years as they received funding. Once they’ve lived in New York for as many years as they attended school, their college is considered paid in full. This program is open to anyone of any age, as long as they qualify financially.
Looking to go to community college? Move to Tennessee. An expansion of its program means that all Tennessee adults who have lived in the state for one year or more prior to attending school can attend any Tennessee community college for free, as long as they maintain a GPA of 2.0 or better.
The city by the bay takes care of its residents. If you’re an adult of any age living in the city of San Francisco, you’re eligible to attend community college there. Like Tennessee, you’ve got to live in San Francisco for a year before you can take advantage. If you’ve always wanted to live in California, though, it’s a great way to help you on the path to a better future.