College Promise is a national non-partisan campaign that supports funding the first two years of higher education, starting with community colleges in the United States. While state-level campaigns often lack funding, College Promise highlights growing concerns about unaffordable college costs and student loan debt in the United States.[1] College Promise is an initiative of Civic Nation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2015.[2]


Higher education in the United States has been restrictive for most of US history, serving elites at first, and slowly growing more democratic from the 1800s to the early 2000s. Government action such as the Morrill Act, GI Bill and Civil Rights Act increased accessibility while growing student populations. In the 1960s, community colleges were low cost, and some larger universities were also low cost. For many reasons, college affordability has been a significant issue in US higher education, especially since 1970.[3][4]

In 2005, the Kalamazoo Promise program was instituted so that local high school students could attend Michigan colleges with a 65 percent to 100 percent tuition discount.[5] In 2014, Tennessee was the first state to initiate a program for free tuition at community colleges.[6] In his 2015 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama proposed making community college tuition free to many residents of the US. Despite its popularity, the plan did not materialize.[7] But by 2017, 16 states had at least one statewide College Promise program.[8] A year later, the College Promise movement grew to over 300 programs in 24 states.[9]


The College Promise advisory board consists of 37 leaders representing interests from education, business, philanthropy, labor, nonprofits, government, and students.[10]


College Promise's donors include the Kresge Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, J.P. Morgan, Great Lakes, Arconic Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation.[11]

Research about College Promise programsEdit

How each College Promise program works influences its effectiveness.[12]

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), College Promise programs that only cover tuition costs may be insufficient for working-class people who may need help with housing, childcare, food and transportation costs.[13] Other researchers have reported similar limitations.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mishory, Jen. "The Future of Statewide College Promise Programs". Century Foundation. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  2. ^ "College Promise Campaign". College Prmomise. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  3. ^ Loss, Christopher. "Why the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act Still Matters". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  4. ^ Sanchez, Claudio. "How The Cost Of College Went From Affordable To Sky-High". National Public Radio. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  5. ^ Kalamazoo Gazette Editorial Board. "Editorial: The good of The Promise extends far beyond Kalamazoo". Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  6. ^ Tamburin, Adam. "Free community college spreads from Tennessee to Oregon". Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  7. ^ Arnett, Autumn. "3 years ago, President Obama first proposed making community college tuition free. Here's where we now stand". Education Dive. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  8. ^ Mishory, Jen. "The Future of Statewide College Promise Programs". Century Foundation. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  9. ^ Cloud, Rosye. "Reimagining The American College Student". Forbes. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Mision and Strategy". College Promise. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Donors". College Promise Campaign. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  12. ^ Billings, Meredith. "Understanding the design of college promise programs, and where to go from here". Brookings Institution. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  13. ^ Stewart, Pearl. "Policy Research: College Promise Programs Are Excluding Student Parents". Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  14. ^ Goldrick-Rab, Sara; Miller-Adams, Michelle. "Don't Dismiss the Value of Free-College Programs. They Do Help Low-Income Students". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 6 July 2019.