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Jul 10, 2014 04:10 AM EDT

Kalamazoo Tuition Program to Expand, Will Include 15 Private Michigan Colleges

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Kalamazoo Promise, a free college tuition program in the state of Michigan, is set to expand to include 15 private colleges.

Established in 2006, the program covers 100 percent of tuition and mandatory fees at Michigan's 15 public universities and 28 community colleges for students who attend Kalamazoo Public Schools at least through high school. Kalamazoo Promise has so far invested $50 million in higher education scholarships for more than 3,200 high school graduates of Kalamazoo.

The expanded program will include higher educational institutions that are part of the Michigan Colleges Alliance - Adrian College, Albion College, Alma College, Andrews University, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Hillsdale College, University of Detroit Mercy, Hope College, Kalamazoo College, Madonna University, Marygrove College, Olivet College, Siena Heights University and Spring Arbor University.

"Fundamentally, it strengthens the brand of the (Kalamazoo) Promise," said Robert Bartlett, president of the Michigan Colleges Alliance. "It is such a phenomenal thing for students and families to have this benefit coming out of the Kalamazoo Public Schools system, and for that benefit to extend to a whole range of institutions," Detroit News reports.

Bartlett said that the partnership with private institutions is a win-win situation for all the parties. Prospective students will now have wide range of programs to choose from and MCA colleges and universities will comprise of eligible students on their campuses.

Jeff Palmer, spokesman for Kalamazoo College, said the campus community is eager to welcome Kalamazoo graduates under the Promise program.

"We think a lot of terrific students are coming out of Kalamazoo schools," Palmer said. "We'd like to open our doors to some of them."

Kalamazoo Promise will now cover tuition and fees for private college students at the same cost as an undergraduate studying in the College of Literature, Science and Arts at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The private colleges will cover the difference amount.

For example, the tuition for 2013-14 at Kalamazoo College was $39,027, whereas in-state tuition at the UM's College of Literature, Science and the Arts was $12,948.

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