May 6, 2022 - News

700 Columbus students on path to free degrees

Illustration of a graduation cap but the tassel is a ladder.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

More than 25% of Columbus City Schools seniors have applied to Columbus State Community College in order to potentially take advantage of a new free tuition program.

Why it matters: Debuting this fall, Columbus Promise provides a cost-free education to hundreds of students who otherwise may have taken on student debt or not pursued a college degree.

How it works: The program covers tuition and fees for six semesters, plus up to $500 per semester for books and other expenses. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA and enroll at least part time.

  • Yearly tuition at Columbus State is about $5,000.

By the numbers: More than 700 students from the 2,500-member class of 2022 applied.

  • That's double the amount who typically attend Columbus State after graduating, Superintendent Talisa Dixon said at a Thursday news conference.

Yes, and: More than 1,200 seniors have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a requirement to participate.

What's next: The $9.5 million initiative is just $200,000 short of fundraising phase one, which includes seniors graduating in 2023 and 2024.

  • When complete, $4.5 million will be funded by donors, $1 million by Columbus State and $4 million by the city.

What they're saying: "The future of American cities' development is people development, is talent development," Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin said. "Our kids are that talent. They are those people who will help us grow as a community."


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