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Abstract

In 2005, Kalamazoo, Michigan launched a bold and innovative economic development strategy, The Kalamazoo Promise (KP), which guarantees tuition to every high school graduate in the district. Since KP inception, high school enrollments are up and college attendance has increased, creating national attention. This paper analyzes the benefits and limitations of six types of tuition guarantees, including KP. For those communities hoping to emulate the success of KP, they should recognize that tuition guarantees are neither a new concept nor work equally well across the board. However, drawing from this paper’s analysis, broad themes of examining the nature, scope, and funding sources should be considered when launching a tuition guarantee program.

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