Muskegon Promise needs more cash to keep up with demand

Muskegon County
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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A program aimed at covering two years of college for Muskegon County high school graduates is dealing with “unexpected high demand.”

On Friday, leaders of Muskegon Area Promise recognized a dozen donors and businesses giving $759,500 to the scholarship program through the “Dream Bigger” fundraising campaign.

Muskegon Area Promise needs another $2.5 million in private donations over the next six years to meet demand for the two-year scholarships to Muskegon Community College or Baker College of Muskegon. Muskegon Area Intermediate School District Superintendent John Severson says while program leaders expected many eligible students to head to four-year universities, about half of them opted for local college to take advantage of the scholarship.

Students eligible for the Muskegon Area Promise scholarship must graduate with a 3.5 grade point average from one of Muskegon County’s 16 high schools, and live within the county. In addition to two years of tuition, the scholarship covers $500 a year in textbook costs.

MAISD says last year, 27 percent of graduating seniors were eligible for the scholarship. Since the program began in 2015, 460 students have taken advantage of it.

If Muskegon Area Promise can meet its $2.5 million investment goal, officials say it would be sustained until 2024, when the program would be fully-funded by capturing a portion of the State Education Tax.  The tax, based on growth of local property values, is expected to yield up to $14 million for Muskegon County.

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