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Columbus Promise Program Doubles Columbus City Schools Enrollment at Columbus State for 2022-2023 School Year

October 20, 2022

COLUMBUS, OH -- The Columbus Promise program has doubled the number of Columbus City Schools graduates enrolled at Columbus State Community College for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The “free college” partnership led by the City of Columbus, Columbus City Schools, I
Know I Can and Columbus State has resulted in an inaugural cohort of 629
Columbus Promise Scholars – a 100% increase from 2021, when 313 Columbus
City Schools students graduated and enrolled directly into Columbus State that

● Of the 629 Columbus Promise Scholars, 78.9% qualify for a full or partial Pell
award, the federal government’s primary financial aid program for
low-income students. While Pell eligibility is a combination of household size,
income, and expenses, most Pell recipients come from families that make less than $30,000 a year, and almost all make less than $50,000 a year.

● The majority of Promise Scholars identify as Black (51.8%). 14.5% identify as
Hispanic, 5.2% as Asian, and 11.1% as white. (The remaining students chose
not to provide information regarding race.)

● Students opted to study a wide array of fields, with health sciences (24%) and
business and hospitality services (21.9%) leading the way.

“The Columbus Promise is off to a strong start,” said Shannon G. Hardin, Columbus
City Council President and program champion. “Similar programs typically boost
enrollment by 30%, and the Columbus Promise flew past that goal. As a product of
the district who is still paying off my student loans, I’m tremendously excited for the
next generation to prepare themselves for a great job while avoiding student debt.”

The Columbus Promise also appeared to inspire a dramatic increase in Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completions, a critical milestone for
college-going. After declining during the pandemic, Ohio saw a small 1.7% rebound
in FAFSA completion, while Columbus City Schools saw a 38% increase in FAFSA
completion. The gains came from a diverse array of high schools, with the largest
year-over-year growth coming from Mifflin High, South High, and Independence.

“This tremendous outcome for our 2022 CCS graduates reflects the excitement
around this amazing opportunity for our students and sets the stage for our 2023
graduates to follow,” said Talisa Dixon, Columbus City Schools Superintendent/CEO.
“That first step of completing the FAFSA motivated so many of our students to
pursue college. Now, the Columbus Promise is providing the infrastructure to
strengthen and grow outcomes moving forward.”

Columbus State continues to swiftly build a dedicated support infrastructure for
Columbus Promise program enrollment and student success. That includes both
dedicated academic coaching for success in the classroom and holistic advising for
life support and career guidance. The program is in the process of collaborating
with major area employers to offer learn-and-earn and other supportive work-study
opportunities for Columbus Promise Scholars as they proceed through the course
of their college education.

“Our children are our city's future, and we owe them every opportunity to succeed
from their earliest years through high school graduation and beyond,” said Mayor
Andrew J. Ginther. "I am grateful to our partners at I Know I Can, Columbus State
and Columbus City Schools for helping to realize this ambitious and innovative
undertaking, and for contributing so significantly to this collective community lift."

Beyond the 629 students, another 85 Columbus City Schools students who have
enrolled in Columbus State have partially fulfilled the requirements to become a
Promise Scholar and may earn that status by the end of the semester, totaling 714
students who are benefiting from Columbus Promise college access programming,
supplemental financial aid, and student services.

“I Know I Can is proud to be a key partner in the Columbus Promise program,
helping to ensure more hardworking CCS students have an opportunity to pursue
postsecondary education,” said Executive Director, Katina Fullen. “We can’t
overstate the importance of FAFSA completion as it continues to be a leading
predictor for college enrollment and attendance.”

The Columbus Promise is funded via a public-private partnership through June
2025. The City of Columbus and Columbus State Community College together with
philanthropic and private sector partners invested the seed capital to kick-start the
program. Columbus Promise partners are strategizing to ensure long-term impact,
sustainability, and growth. The City of Columbus has engaged the W.E. Upjohn
Institute for Employment Research based in Kalamazoo, MI to conduct a third-party
evaluation of the program; they have consulted on multiple promise programs
around the U.S.

The process to become a Promise Scholar begins with CCS seniors completing the
FAFSA, graduating from high school, applying to Columbus State, and filling out the
Columbus Promise application. Students who follow these steps will have their
tuition and fees covered regardless of their high school grades or household
income. Columbus Promise Scholars also receive an additional $1,000 annual
stipend and are eligible for other stackable scholarships offered by Columbus State
or other entities. That means scholars can accumulate grant funding over and
above tuition that they won’t have to pay back and can use for supportive
education costs, including routine life expenses.

Columbus Promise encourages donor support at all levels. Those wishing to
contribute on a personal level can donate to the Columbus Promise Fund at the
Columbus Foundation, where program funds are professionally managed and
invested. A full list of all the Columbus Promise donors is available on the Columbus
Promise website.