The Washington Post

Does Catania’s scholarship plan promise enough?

D.C. Council member David Catania has proposed a tuition-assistance program that would help lower-income D.C. students pay for college. So-called “Promise” scholarship programs have been tried elsewhere, with mixed success.

Catania’s program, unveiled a month ago, would provide scholarships of up to $20,000 a year to students who both graduate from a DCPS or charter school and have spent at least four years in the system. Reaction to the plan at a public hearing last week was generally favorable, although some officials questioned how the District would pay for it. On Thursday, Catania said it would cost at most $50 million a year, but other estimates have gone as high as $75 million.

Dubbed the “DC Promise,” Catania’s proposal bears some similarities to the “Kalamazoo Promise,” launched in Michigan in 2005 by a group of anonymous private donors. It has inspired programs, or at least discussions of programs, in perhaps 25 other places around the country.

Catania proposes to provide tuition subsidies to families earning up to $250,000, although those with higher incomes and fewer years in the school system would get less than others. The maximum of $100,000, spread over five years, would go to those whose kids have been in D.C. public schools since sixth grade and who earn below 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold. The minimum award would be $3,000 a year.

[Continue reading Natalie Wexler’s post at Greater Greater Education.]

Natalie Wexler is the editor of Greater Greater Education. She is a member of the boards of D.C. Scholars Public Charter School and the nonprofit One World Education. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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