GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More than 900 Grand Rapids high school graduates have a helping hand to further their education during the upcoming school year.

The Grand Rapids Promise Zone scholarships cover the tuition, fees, books and course materials for associate’s degree, job training and certification programs at Grand Rapids Community College. For the 2022-2023 school year, some 900 new students are eligible.

“I truly believe in higher education,” Promise Zone Director Ashlee Mishler said. “I understand that a four-year degree is not for everyone but a community college really allows students to explore the many opportunities that they have post-high school.”

Students are notified by their school if they have qualified for the full 60-credit hour scholarship. To qualify, the student must:

  • Attend an eligible Grand Rapids high school continuously at least since the beginning of 10th grade.
  • Live in the city of Grand Rapids boundaries continuously since at least the beginning of 10th grade.
  • Graduate from any of the 25 public, public charter or private high schools located in the city.

Recipients must also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — more commonly known as FAFSA.

The scholarship program was created in 2020 by the Grand Rapids Promise Authority, a group of city and community leaders and educators. In the 2021-22 term, more than 500 students took advantage of the scholarship.

“We have so many amazing job training programs that are really a short-term opportunity for students to get some hands-on training and then be able to go use that training right away in pursuing a career of their choice,” Mishler said.

Or, she said, students can use their Promise scholarship to start down the path of a four-year degree.

Eligible students have five years to access the funds after they graduate high school.