College Promise Program Design Models
Just as there is no universal design model for higher education institutions or even for community college systems and individual colleges, there is no singular, authoritative design for College Promise programs. Whether a College Promise program uses a first-dollar or last-dollar approach is a primary difference. Beyond this, programs are as variable as the states, communities and students they serve, and significant variations among programs span funding models, eligibility requirements, outcomes data requirements and more.
This page offers an overview of some of the major differences among different College Promise programs currently being implemented throughout the United States. For a concise comparison of several different College Promise program models, including the Tennessee Promise, Salt Lake Community College Promise, Kalamazoo & Baldwin Promise, and Oregon Promise, visit ACCT NOW. See the bottom of this page for in-depth analyses and briefing papers from the College Promise Campaign.
There is no one-size-fits-all way to fund a Promise program. A program’s funding stream will depend on the available public and/or private financial resources available.
Publicly funded Promise programs can draw on a variety of public sources of funding. Common sources include: local, state, and/or federal government funds in the form of direct appropriations (mandatory, discretionary, or one-time appropriations); tax revenue; or a publicly sourced endowment; among others.
Privately funded Promise programs can draw on a variety of private sources of funding. Common sources include: private donations from corporations and/or individuals; revenue from a privately-established endowment; philanthropic organizations; institutional aid (costs covered directly by a college); or local nonprofit organizations, among others.
Public-Privately funded Promise programs draw on a combination of the above funding sources to operate.
Student Eligibility Requirement Models
Most Promise programs require students who receive a Promise scholarship to meet certain benchmarks to maintain their eligibility status from semester to semester or year to year as they persist to earn their postsecondary degrees or certificates. Common requirements include:
Some programs require that students in a Promise program maintain a minimum GPA level (e.g., 2.0, 2.5, 3.0).
Minimum Course Load:
Some programs require that students in a Promise program maintain a minimum course or credit load (e.g., requiring full time or part time enrollment).
Some programs require that students in a Promise program complete a required amount of community service hours per semester or academic year.
Participation in Supplemental Promise Program Activities:
Some programs require that students in a Promise program participate in supplemental activities (e.g., meet with a mentor, participate in specified Promise cohort activities, take required classes, pursue guided pathways, meet with a counselor or advisor to plan their course of study, etc.).
Completing the Federal Government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):
Many programs require that students in a Promise program complete and submit a FAFSA application each academic year.
Learn More: Recommended Resources from the College Promise Campaign
- Understanding College Promise Programs by Dr. Laura W. Perna, University of Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy
- Promise Nation: Transforming Communities through Place-Based Scholarships by Michelle Miller Adams, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
- Designing Sustainable Funding for College Promise Initiatives: Federal Financial Aid Re-design Models by Sandy Baum, Urban Institute; William Hansen, USA Funds.
- Designing Sustainable Funding for College Promise Initiatives: Children’s Savings Account Models by William Elliott, University of Kansas; Andrea Levere, Corporation for Enterprise Development