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What Are College Promise Programs?
College promise programs may or may not be something that you have heard of before. They are still relatively new and can look quite different across the states. In this article, we explain what college promise programs are and explore the MyPromise website. We also profile a few different college promise programs and help you find out if these programs could be of use to you!
What is a college promise program?
It’s best to think of college promise programs as more of an umbrella term than as one specific source of funding to help pay for school. College promise programs acknowledge the achievement gaps and inequalities that various demographics of people face. With this in mind, college promise programs seek to make college as universal, free, and as accessible as high school.
Also see: States with tuition-free community college
What do college promise programs do?
Through the creation of financial assistance and support systems for students, college promise programs help students navigate and earn higher education without taking on debt. College promise programs fund up to 100 percent of tuition and fees at community colleges for recent high school graduates. In certain states, funding for four-year degrees is also available
College promise program searchable databases
The most well-known and credible college promise database is MyPromise. The database is managed by College Promise. The “College Promise for All” is a national proposal that aims to “deliver affordable college opportunities for all Americans.” The best definition of My Promise is their own mission statement:
“We are a national, non-partisan, non-profit initiative that builds broad public support for funding the first two or more years of postsecondary education for hard-working students, and ensuring those students have access to quality educational opportunities and supports.”
Keep reading to learn more about this searchable directory.
Also see: Top need-based scholarships
The MyPromise database
The MyPromise’s comprehensive website makes searching for college promise programs fast and easy for students seeking financial support for higher education. You can learn about just a few of the time saving features below.
The “search” option
MyPromise also offers a feature that allows you to search programs via zip code, school, city, or program type. If you can’t find a program that is in your state or near you, try looking at nearby states. Not all college promise programs require residency in the state the program is offered by. You can also visit the College Promise website to view a map of the United States that features all the available promise programs. One you click on your state, you’ll be able to view the programs and their specific requirements.
The “compare” option
The last feature to highlight about the MyPromise page is the ability to compare programs. You can compare up to three programs from various states at a time. Once you hit compare, the website displays all the programs you’ve selected side by side. They’ll even have a “print” button pop up that allows you to download the information into a document! This is a great tool to use since you’ll most likely be looking at more than one program.
Related: How to get in-state tuition as an out-of-state student
Examples of promise programs
Below are a few promise programs from various states so that you can familiarize yourself with what information is shared. Each one includes a brief introduction about the program and then a few points that summarize the requirements. You can click on any of them to look directly at their page on the College Promise website.
Akron Promise (Ohio)
The Akron Promise is actually a college mentoring program. This means students will enroll in this program before they graduate high school. This program is designed for students who reside in Akron, Ohio and neighboring areas who plan to attend Stark State Community College.
- Recent high school graduates
- Must have full time student status
- Students must participate in a community mentoring program and are encouraged to go back and mentor at their high schools
Aggie Assurance (Texas)
The Aggie Assurance program helps students from low and middle income households. It is available to recent high school graduates, adults, and special populations who wish to attend Texas A&M University.
- Covers up to 4+ potential semesters
- Must plan to be enrolled as a full time student
- Need to be a resident of Texas to be eligible
Canyons Promise (California)
The Canyons Promise program is open to first-time college students who wish to attend College of the Canyons, a community college in Santa Clarita, California. Eligible students receive tuition for two full years.
- Must be a California resident
- Will need to be enrolled in full time classes (min. 12 credit hours)
- No post-college residency requirements
Also see: List of free California community college
When you begin to look at college promise programs, you might be feeling like there has to be a catch somewhere. If you’ve seen the section on some promise programs called “post college residency,” you might be thinking, “ok, I found that catch.” Not so fast! Let’s take a few moments to talk about what post college residency is and why it shouldn’t be a deterrent factor for you.
Post college residency means that after you receive funding from a college promise program, you are required to fulfill certain obligations. These obligations vary from program to program. Some require that you obtain a job within six months of graduation. Other obligations require that you volunteer with the funding organization for a short period of time. Finally, some programs don’t specify what the residency requirements are, just that there is a requirement. Always do your research ahead of time to make sure that you know exactly what is expected of you.
Also see: How to pay for community college
Frequently asked questions
What are the eligibility requirements for promise programs?
Eligibility requirements will vary depending upon the program you participate in. Typical requirements will look something like having a minimum GPA, being a recent high school graduate, have filed FAFSA and be looking to be a full time student. But, like we said, these requirements vary. So, take your time looking at individual programs.
Do you have to pay back promise programs?
No! The purpose of college promise programs is to act as a tool to make sure you don’t owe money when you graduate. However, some college promise programs do require something called post-college residency. Check out the section above about post-college residency to find out more!
How do I apply for promise programs?
Each individual program has a different application. Because of that, there is unfortunately no one answer to this question. If there is a program that you are interested in, but can’t seem to find all the answers to, reach out to the program directly.
How long do promise programs last?
Again, this is another point that varies by each individual program. Some promise programs cover all four years as you work towards a bachelor’s degree while some will only require the first two years. Check with each specific program to see what they explicitly promise to cover.