New Program Makes College Tuition Free in Grand Rapids

The city is a Michigan Promise Zone, which makes college tuition free in Grand Rapids. Find out what you need to know about this program and if your kids qualify.

Families who live in Grand Rapids have reason to celebrate this month after officials announced that the city is now a Michigan Promise Zone.

That means most high school graduates in Grand Rapids will be eligible for free college tuition at Grand Rapids Community College, starting with the class of 2020, WZZM13 reports.

The program – funded through private donations and revenue captured from the state education tax, according to – has been in the works since July of last year but was formally approved by the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority Board of Directors on Jan. 13.

“Today is a great day for our city and the Class of 2020,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss says in a recent press release, noting that the program “removes barriers and provides support to our high school graduates to access higher education to earn an associate degree or certification.”

Here’s what families in the area need to know about the program.

Who qualifies?

To qualify for the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship, students must live in Grand Rapids and graduate from one of 22 eligible high schools in the city.

Which schools are included?

Students from the following high schools are eligible for the program.

  1. Grand Rapids City High School
  2. Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School
  3. Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy
  4. Sacred Heart Academy High School
  5. Innovation Central High School
  6. Grand Rapids Christian High School
  7. Ottawa Hills High School
  8. West Catholic High School
  9. Union High School
  10. Grand Rapids Adventist Academy
  11. Grand Rapids Montessori High School
  12. Wellspring Preparatory High School
  13. A. Frost Environmental Science Academy
  14. Hope Academy of West Michigan
  15. Grand Rapids Public Museum School
  16. Grand Rapids Covenant House Academy
  17. Grand Rapids Learning Center
  18. NorthPointe Christian High School
  19. Lake Michigan Academy
  20. Plymouth Christian High School
  21. Southwest Community Campus High School
  22. Southeast Career Pathways

What classes and costs are covered?

According to the press release, the Promise Scholarship can be used at Grand Rapids Community College to earn up to 60 credit hours. The scholarship includes the cost of tuition, fees, books and other required course materials.

How long can a student use the scholarship?

After a student becomes eligible for the program, they have five years from their high school graduation date to use the scholarship – and they must take at least six credit hours per semester except for during the summer, the article notes.

Can a student move to Grand Rapids to get the free tuition?

Sorry, metro Detroiters – this program is closely tied to a student’s length of residency and the high school they attended. Here’s a quick breakdown of the attendance requirements; find full details here.

  • If a student lived in Grand Rapids and attended one of the 22 eligible high schools within city limits for grades 9-12 or 10-12, the scholarship benefit is 100%.
  • If a student attended only grades 11-12 in the city, the scholarship benefit is 50%.
  • If a student attended only grade 12 in Grand Rapids, they are not eligible for the scholarship.

Do students still need to apply for financial aid?

Yes. According to the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Scholarship press release, students must still apply for student aid by filling out the FAFSA form.

For more information, visit


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