Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has presented a plan to offer Seattle students two free years of community college.
Mayor Jenny Durkan hopes to make the first two years of college free for all Seattle high school students. Last week, she presented a plan to make this happen, according to The Seattle Times.
Durkan’s plan would pay for the first two years of community college for all Seattle students. And there is no catch to Durkan’s plan; students would be able to attend regardless of their GPA, family income, or legal history. The program would likely work in conjunction with Washington state’s College Bound program and other federal programs.
The Century Foundation, a think tank, just released a new report examining the success rate of programs like Durkan’s. They are commonly referred to as “promise” programs and the report indicated they often have a high success rate.
Jennifer Mishory, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, said that the simpler the plan, the better the outcome. Mishory said that adding too many restrictions would turn away students who might otherwise enroll.
Washington already offers the College Bound program, which helps low-income students attend either a two-year or a four-year college. The program is far from simple, though; students must sign up by the time they are in eighth grade, have at least a C-average, and they have to stay out of legal trouble.
Durkan’s plan expands on an idea originally introduced in 2008. Called the 13th Year, the program gave Cleveland High School students a year at South Seattle College for free. It later grew to include several other high schools and community colleges.
The 13th Year students also receive extra support during their first year. Offering extra services can improve the success rates for promise plans, Mishory told the Times.
Durkan’s program would kick off this fall, and students at six Seattle High Schools would receive their first two years of community college for free. Students who took their 13th year during the 2017-2018 school year would receive a second year for free. And the program would be open to all students, regardless of their citizenship status.
According to Durkan’s office, the program expansion would cost $1.7 million during its first year and it is expected to help over 1,000 students. Of course, as more students sign up for the program in the future, the costs would increase.
Free College Programs Across the Country
Some consumers may be surprised to learn that programs like Durkan’s are not that uncommon. Currently, there are 44 programs offered across 24 different states that provide students at least two years of free college. These programs can significantly reduce or eliminate the need for taking on student loan debt and help students pay for college.
Programs in Arkansas, Connecticut, California, and other states offer college tuition programs with few eligibility restrictions. However, almost all of them require students to fill out a FASFA to qualify.
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