A Second Look at Enrollment Changes after the Kalamazoo Promise

More than 30 communities across the country have adopted Promise-type student scholarship programs in hopes of stimulating local economic development, and many others are considering such programs. A new study by Brad Hershbein shows that this approach works for at least one area: Kalamazoo, Michigan. Hershbein studied the enrollment patterns of students before and after the Kalamazoo Promise, which was the first program to offer all graduates whose families resided in a local school district up to 100 percent of tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. The intent was that this place-based scholarship would attract new families into the Kalamazoo Public School district and spur economic growth through community revitalization, greater housing demand, and more highly qualified workers. Hershbein found a 40 percent increase in new entrants, relative to previous years,  after the promise was announced. A third of these new students came from outside the metro area to take advantage of the scholarships, and more than a quarter came from other states. The Promise has also helped keep families within the district: in the eight years since the program’s inception, about 1,300 families who otherwise would have left the area stayed because of the Promise. While a more detailed study of migration patterns is planned, the results suggest that the Promise may have raised annual gross regional product in the area by 1 percent, or about $100 million.



Brad J. Hershbein headshot

Brad J. Hershbein

Senior Economist and Deputy Director of Research

Research Topics: Promise Programs