Dec. 10, 2022
Wayne State University (WSU) senior Elisha Little was in a different mental space two years ago as a then-sophomore student finding her way.
“I came to college during a very interesting time with everything that the world had to offer from 2020 and onward,” the WSU business administration student told the Michigan Chronicle. “The pandemic, social unrest and the overall state of the world weighed heavily on myself and other college students alike.”
Now, the soaring college senior who found her way said that part of her journey’s answers in academia came in the form of a scholarship that provides her with tuition-free assistance at school.
Through the Detroit Promise Scholarship, a program that began in 2013, Detroit students like Little could attend school, graduate and thrive in the real world without real-world debt keeping them financially burdened for years to come.
“[It] lifted a huge weight off my shoulders by handling my tuition and fees,” she said of the scholarship. “It was great to be able to deal with the transition to online learning without the need to worry about how I’m going to pay my tuition. It allowed me to focus more on my studies and extracurriculars. There is also a great community of Detroit Promise students at Wayne State and other universities that I have had the pleasure of networking with. The Detroit Promise team does a great job at planning professional development and networking events for us to build and strengthen that community.”
According to educationdata.org, 42.8 million people are borrowers with federal student loan debt, with an average balance of $37,787.
Detroit Promise is looking to change that financial trajectory for Detroit Public School graduates through their schooling.
Recently, Wayne State University awarded the largest number of Detroit Promise scholarships for the second consecutive year, ahead of all other Michigan universities. This scholarship offers debt-free education for eligible Detroit Public School graduates and city residents at participating colleges for trade, two-year and four-year credentials.
Detroit Promise – administered via the Detroit Regional Chamber and funded by the Michigan Excellence in Education Foundation – in partnership with Wayne State covers the total cost of tuition and other fees included in registering, including enrollment, registration and student service fees. The award is non-competitive; every student who meets the requirements and applies for the Detroit Promise receives funding.
Wayne State enrolled 107 first-year students and 18 transfer Detroit Promise students for fall 2022, positively impacting admissions.
“The Detroit recruitment team works very closely with the Detroit Public Schools Community District and Detroit charter and private schools to inform students and school counselors about the unlimited number of Detroit Promise scholarships,” said LaJoyce Brown, senior associate director of undergraduate admissions at Wayne State.
Wytrice Harris, senior director of College Success and Partnerships at the Detroit Regional Chamber, told the Michigan Chronicle that the program is a mutual benefit to universities and community colleges who receive more student enrollment opportunities and more.
Harris, leader of the Detroit Promise Path program, which provides coaches to support Detroit Promise students through their educational journeys, said that the program has been reformatted and renamed and rehoused, as well as expanded in the last 20 years but one thing remains the same: Detroit students continue to reap the biggest benefit from a solid education for free.
“I think probably the biggest impact is not only for students to have the ability to go to school now tuition-free but not to have loan debt on other side [of that] and hanging over them the rest of their lives.”
Next year marks the 10th anniversary for Detroit Promise, which Harris said will entail a celebration highlighting the true benefits of the program with more details to come.
In total, about $8 million has been spent during that time to cover tuition for students. The funds come from the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, where Detroit Promise is housed.
Requirements specific to Wayne State include filing the FAFSA application and maintaining at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA. Students must also maintain full-time enrollment and pass a minimum of 12 credits each semester. Detroit Promise students can renew the award for four consecutive years.
Since 2013, more than 5,000 students have benefited from the Detroit Promise across 26 Michigan universities.
For more information in general and on scholarship criteria visit Detroitpromise.com.