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9 fabulous financial aid offers for college

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The Kalamazoo Promise, Michigan
The Kalamazoo Promise, Michigan

The Kalamazoo Promise, Michigan

The deal: Free or discounted tuition at Michigan public colleges for Kalamazoo high school graduates.

With about 254,000 residents, Kalamazoo isn't a huge county, but for public school students there, it's a lucrative place to live. Thanks to anonymous donors, any student who attends ninth through 12th grade at a Kalamazoo public high school will receive 65 percent off tuition at any two- or four-year public college in Michigan. The longer the resident has attended a Kalamazoo secondary school, the more free tuition he or she gets. Those who attend kindergarten through 12th grade receive 100 percent free tuition for up to 130 college credits.

"There's really no 'gotchas,'" says Kalamazoo Promise Executive Director Bob Jorth. "(Students) do have to maintain a 2.0 GPA in college, but they're not required to come back to Kalamazoo."

Since the program started in 2006, it has awarded $50 million to more than 3,000 students. Several towns have followed in Kalamazoo's footsteps. El Dorado, Arkansas, New Haven, Connecticut, Rockford, Illinois, and Pittsburgh offer similar programs to city residents. A list of Promise programs is available at FinAid.org.

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