The New Haven public school system, like others across the country, is dealing with a high drop-out rate that leaves many students unable to climb out of their current poverty trap. To help combat the problem in this New England state, Yale University has pledged a large amount of money over the next four years to help high school students in Connecticut go to college without worry over how bills will be paid. Yale has recently announced the New Haven Promise, a new program that will allow public high school graduates in Connecticut the opportunity to go to college for free if they qualify for admission and keep their grades up during college.
This video explains how financial aid works at Yale University.
New Haven Promise
New Haven Promise is a scholarship and support program created by the city of New Haven and Yale University. It is designed to reduce the public school drop-out rate by providing the means for many more New Haven students to attend college.
According to the New Haven Promise website, the organization hopes to accomplish the following:
- Cultivate an aspiration for higher education among New Haven public school students
- Build a community of support and parental engagement
- Grow the economic development throughout the city of New Haven
The organization wants to be the catalyst that reduces not only drop-out rates but poverty, crime, and incarceration rates in New Haven as well.
In this video, Jordy Padilla — a member of the first cohort of New Haven Promise Scholars — has had a more challenging road than most, but he made it to graduate from the University of New Haven and is now working as a project engineer in New Haven.
How it Works
To reach this end, New Haven Promise has pledged to provide full tuition to qualifying New Haven high school graduates to any public university or college in the state of Connecticut. To qualify, students must:
- Have a grade point average that is at least 3.0
- Have a 90% attendance record
- Demonstrate a positive discipline record
- Complete at least 40 hours of community service
- Maintain a 2.5 GPA in college
Last year, around 200 of New Haven's 1,000 high school graduates would have qualified for the New Haven Promise program, according to these criteria. Students who receive scholarships or want to attend a private college in Connecticut would also be eligible for some funding – up to $2,500 per year to help offset tuition at those institutions, according to a report in the Yale Daily News.
This video describes the New Haven Promise program.
The Washington Post reports the program is expected to cost about $4.5 million each year. Yale University will be footing the bill for the large majority of the funding and has committed to the program for the next four years. After that time, funding will be dependent on the program's ability to demonstrate its benefits in the community.
Yale University President Richard Levin stated in the Yale Daily News report, "If you do your part, and you work hard and excel in school, we'll do our part to make sure you have the resources you need to achieve your full potential." Levin added that he believes Yale's contribution to the program will be around $4 million per year for the next seven years. However, after the first four years, the program will be reviewed annually to ensure its benefits before it is officially renewed.
Opposition to the Program
While many have embraced the New Haven Promise as a way to diminish drop-out rates and elevate more students out of poverty, not everyone sees this program as the solution it claims to be.
The Yale Daily News also published an op-ed piece from Davenport College sophomore Nate Zelinsky that explains many of the problems with the plan. According to Zelinsky, "New Haven Promise is a poorly disguised Band-Aid which will only allow the larger problem to continue festering: New Haven's high schools do a bad job of preparing students for college."
Zelinsky suggests that the problem of high drop-out rates should be addressed by examining teacher tenures that allow poorly-performing teachers to continue working in public schools. He prefers to see the public school system enact what he refers to as "real school reform," which involves abolishing the current tenure system and replacing it with an accountability program.
Zelinsky states, "New Haven Promise whitewashes the true problem in New Haven. We should not care about how many New Haven students we send to college, but rather how many we send to college prepared."
Despite opposition, New Haven Promise is already in motion, and many New Haven high school graduates may reap the rewards of the program next year. With tuition fully paid for, there may be more high school students prepared to walk the hallowed grounds of higher education and find new ways to meet their full potential as professional adults in the future.
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