Are you eligible for free college? A College Promise tool can help

With free college going nowhere nationally (for now at least), state and local pledge programs – another name for free college – are where there is the greatest potential for growth. continues in efforts to make college more affordable for students.

With so many promising programs now in place, it can be difficult for students to determine what they qualify for. A new tool from College Promise aims to make it easier for students to determine if they qualify for one of more than 350 free college programs nationwide.

How does this tool help students?

The MyPromise tool will make it easier for prospective students to determine which free college programs are available near them. By facilitating the research process, it is hoped that more students will be able to take advantage of accessible and affordable higher education.

In addition to a searchable database of promise programs and an interactive map, MyPromise provides information on scholarships, college entrance requirements, and comprehensive aids available to help students succeed once that they are enrolled in university.

The tool will allow students to compare different pledge programs side-by-side. This should help students determine which programs will provide them with the best deal and the most support.

Who is College Promise?

College Promise is a national, nonprofit organization focused on promoting the growth of free college programs, otherwise known as promise programs.

“Students across the country benefit every day from Promise programs that not only lower the financial cost of post-secondary education, but also provide wraparound supports such as child care, transportation, and/or mentors that enable them to thrive in college,” Martha Kanter, CEO of College Promise said in a press release.

What is a promised program?

The Promise programs are an approach to reducing the price of a college education to ease the burden that ever-increasing prices place on students and their families. The more than 350 Pledge programs across the country range from state-level programs like New Mexico’s Excellent Program to local, place-based programs like the Kalamazoo Pledge.

Promise programs vary widely in terms of design and eligibility criteria. The New Mexico and Kalamazoo programs are what is called first dollar. Students who receive tuition and fee assistance can stack any other financial assistance, such as Federal Pell Grants, in addition to pledged funds. First-dollar programs ensure that students can use financial aid that exceeds their tuition and fees to pay for books, housing, and other living expenses. This contrasts with last dollar programs, like the New York Excelsior Scholarship, which only help students if their other financial aid does not cover their tuition and fees.

Research has shown that the simplicity of the message that comes from free college programs can encourage students to enroll in higher education. By providing a new tool to help students discover free college programs near them, there will hopefully be a positive effect for students who may not have considered a possible college education.

Kanter said, “This project builds on our unwavering commitment to increasing equitable access to high-quality post-secondary education for every American.”

Every day students strive to get into college, only to find that the price will be more than they can afford. Hopefully MyPromise will reduce the number of students who are disappointed with the high price of college.

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