The Oakland Post

OU takes the next step in furthering higher education avaliablity

Laurel Kraus, Life Editor

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As of 2015, around 60 percent of Americans had not obtained an associate’s degree or higher, according to Forbes. Oakland University has entered a full partnership with the Detroit Promise Program beginning fall of 2018 to provide Detroit students with the opportunity to combat that statistic.

“We’re trying to create a culture and an understanding in Detroit that if you graduate high school, there is a pathway for you to go on to higher education,” said Greg Handel, vice president of education on the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The Detroit Promise Program, established in 2013, is a scholarship program in which Detroit students are offered the ability to attend either two or four years of college tuition-free.

“Most of our students come from Oakland and Macomb County,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Oakland, James Lentini. “We’d like to actually expand our opportunities for Wayne County students, and Detroit students in particular with the Detroit Promise, to be able to attend Oakland.”

For the previous two years, Oakland has participated through accepting up to five students in the program each year, but with the full partnership it will now be accepting an unlimited number.

“We are trying to increase our presence in the Detroit area,” Director of Financial Aid Cindy Hermsen said. “I think this is another step toward Oakland University expressing our interest in providing access to students throughout the entire state.”

Students who have lived in the city all four years of high school and have graduated from a Detroit school, achieved a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and earned a minimum score of either 21 on the ACT or 1060 on the SAT, are automatically eligible for the scholarship but must register with the Detroit Chamber of Commerce.

Since Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced the idea for such a program in 2011, the Detroit Regional Chamber has been responsible for managing it, with funding from the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation.

The Detroit Promise Program is considered a last dollar scholarship, which means that Oakland will first accept and apply all other scholarships and/or grants that a student is eligible for before utilizing the program’s scholarship to pay any remaining tuition balance.

“We build on existing sources of support so that we’re really leveraging our resources in a way that allow us to be sustainable,” Handel said.

While the Detroit Promise Program fully covers tuition costs, it does not aid in books or housing.

“We understand that there are still barriers to students being able to continue, but we’ve removed a major one,” Handel said.

Under the program, five classes have graduated from high school and moved into the community college program and two classes have moved into the four-year university program, according to Handel.

As similar scholarship offered at OU is The Wade H. McCree Scholarship Program, which holds the same academic requirements as the Detroit Promise Program, but awards full tuition to students in Detroit, Pontiac and Royal Oak who are nominated by their school districts.

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OU takes the next step in furthering higher education avaliablity