Cities Fight Urban Blight With Free College Tuition

'Promise Communities' are tried across the country
By Michael Roston,  Newser User
Posted Oct 22, 2008 7:48 PM CDT
The graduation rate has fallen to 36% at Hammond High School; will College Bound help?   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Cities on the decline across the country are testing a new strategy to stem urban decline: Families who buy homes in town get their kids college tuition paid in full. These "promise communities"—about 80 in all—seek to attract new residents and keep upwardly-mobile city dwellers from moving out, Ryan Blitstein writes for Miller-McCune. The hope is that "higher property values will bring more taxes and investment" for cities depressed by urban flight.

Though a few cities' pilot program were funded by wealthy donors, most have had to fight for taxpayer dollars and small contributions to finance the endeavor. Some critics deride the program as "middle-class welfare" for families who could already afford to pay for college. And in Hammond, Ind., which Blitstein examines, the data has yet to prove that its 10-year program works. “Unfortunately, our economy is in shambles,” the mayor says. “It’s hard to look at the real estate numbers and say whether it’s working.”