Out-Of-State “Promise” Expansion Suggested

Melissa Bailey File PhotoAs New Haven Promise sends a third class of students to Connecticut colleges with scholarships, organizers faced a question: Why exclude kids who head out-of-state for college?

The question arose at a recent meeting of the Citywide Parent Leadership Team at Wilbur Cross High School.

Parents at the meeting heard an update from Patricia Melton, director of New Haven Promise, the city’s college scholarship program that’s funded by Yale and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

In its third year, Promise is about to hand out scholarships to 168 students heading into their freshman year in college, Melton announced. To qualify, students have to meet a 3.0 GPA, do 40 hours of community service, stay out of trouble, and maintain a 90 percent attendance rate. (This year, the group also includes 20 kids who got in under “Passport to Promise,” a new, competitive pilot program for kids with GPAs between 2.5 and 2.99. )

Applications are at an all-time high, Melton announced: Of the roughly 1,000 New Haven high school seniors in the Class of 2013, 486 applied to the program. That’s up from 352 last year and 369 in 2011. (The number of applicants dropped slightly between 2011 and 2012 because Promise moved the applications online, she said.)

Promise offers up to free tuition at public, in-state 2- and 4-year colleges and universities and up to $2,500 a year in tuition at not-for-profit colleges.

Chris Volpe PhotoTo get the money, kids must attend college in Connecticut. That means kids who would otherwise qualify must turn down the money if they’d like to attend college somewhere else. Of the 486 who applied this year, 202 qualified, and 168 accepted the money. Another 34 qualified but did not accept the scholarship—a sign that they may have left the state.

Parent activist Tim Holahan listened to the figures. Then he asked Melton a question.

“Why limit students to Connecticut” for college?

If the point is to encourage all New Haven public school graduates to go to college, it doesn’t make sense to restrict the money to in-state institutions, he argued. Connecticut colleges don’t have it all, he added: For example, the state has no historically black college or university.

Melton acknowledged the concern. Melton said she “absolutely” plans to research the issue and present it to the Promise board for discussion.

Melton noted that Hartford’s Promise, which plans to launch in 2016, pledges to offer money to kids who attend both in-state and out-of-state colleges. She said New Haven Promise has already expanded by creating the Passport to Promise program last year, and “we will continue to look at policy changes across the board.”

“Everything is on the table,” she said.

One of the five Promise board members, Mayor John DeStefano, frowned on the idea of extending scholarships to out-of-state kids.

“One of the goals of Promise is to keep kids in-state,” he said in a written statement Monday. “Promise is a benefit, not an entitlement. Keeping our talent local makes the most sense and is best for the future of New Haven.”

Melissa Bailey File PhotoThe amount of scholarships is being phased in. This year, students get scholarships worth up to 75 percent of tuition. How much money they get depends on how many years they have attended New Haven public schools (including charters and traditional public schools). Scholarships start at 48 percent of tuition for kids who attended only high school in New Haven; students who attended from kindergarten get 75 percent.

Promise is handing out $650,000 this year—including the payments for the Class of 2011, 2012 and 2013—Melton announced. The current high school seniors will be the first class who qualify for scholarships worth up to 100 percent of tuition. See the image below for more stats on Promise’s first three years.

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posted by: anonymous on September 17, 2013  12:11pm

I’m with DeStefano on this one.

posted by: Wooster Squared on September 17, 2013  2:05pm

DeStefano is absolutely right on this one. This program is a great benefit, but it’s not a blank check.

This is a wonderful program, why is it that people always have to demand more and more? Can’t we applaud the fact that this program is allowing many more New Haven kids the chance to go to college instead of trying to pick it apart?

I guess it’s true what they say, “No good deed goes unpunished”.

posted by: Nathan on September 17, 2013  2:12pm

“Why limit students to Connecticut?”

Aside from the philosophical position raised by Mayor JD, because there is usually a significant difference in the cost of in-state vs. out-of-state tuition.  One possible compromise would be to offer the same amount for out-of-state public institutions as currently is offered for private counterparts, $2,500.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on September 17, 2013  2:39pm


So, a New Haven student who goes to an in-state college is guaranteed to live and work in-state once they receive their degree?  Or a NH student who goes to college out of state is guaranteed to leave the state once they graduate from college?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to obligate students receiving Promise Scholarships to a 2-5 year commitment to the city or state upon completion of their college or graduate degrees, or has an alternative require that the students perform a number of hours/months of in-state community service during the summers while they are still in college?

That way there is a guarantee that the student’s higher education and talents will serve the local work-force, economy, or community, instead of assuming that a student who is required to attend an in-state school will maintain an in-state residency once they’ve received their degree. 

Said assumption, which the present Mayor’s conclusion seems based on, if proved inaccurate, will not serve the purpose that he is saying the Promise Scholarship seeks to fulfill, though there are real questions as to why the scholarship seeks to serve such a purpose in the global community and economy in which we live today. 

But, that’s yet another discussion.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 17, 2013  2:51pm

If a student decided to attend an out of state school, it is probably because he had the means to do so.  This is a good thing. There is true ‘need’ out there.

New Haven Promise is trying to grow faulty metrics, under the guise of “increasing participation”, 

The true mark of success is increasing scholarship numbers through an improved education system.  But that is not something New Haven Promise can do by themselves.

posted by: LoveNH on September 17, 2013  2:56pm

This program has many purposes, and I
Agree with Destefano that this is largely about promoting
local colleges and a local college educated
Georgia has a statewide program
with similar rules that has helped to promote more competitive state schools.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on September 17, 2013  5:49pm


My bad.

II thought this was “largely about” motivating students to do well academically and socially during their secondary school years and then rewarding them with a scholarship to college.

Who knew?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 17, 2013  6:22pm

College education should be free.Certain public colleges started out free. The CUNY system in New York was famously free.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 17, 2013  8:50pm

you have now entered the twilight zone….

I to have to say John is spot on.
In state not only keeps talet local it also supports local jobs.

posted by: Brutus2011 on September 17, 2013  9:30pm

I have wondered why we have not implemented a program that helps our kids get a degree in return for having them serve as teachers or teacher assistants in our schools?

Mentoring is a device that will help those mentored and those who mentor.

Anyone who has gone to law school knows the value and utility of the Student Bar Association or SBA. It has a mentoring aspect to it that is of invaluable aid to students trying to adjust to the rigors of 1L.

I also believe that middle school students can serve as mentors to the little kids. And high schoolers can serve as mentors to the middle school kids and so on.

I would like to see New Haven Promise continue but change the “social contract” to include service to this community. Sort of like a “community military service.” And God knows, that some of New Haven can be like a war zone.

But mentoring programs have little sex appeal for political capital and certainly might require funds that are ear-marked for political pay-back and “friends and family.”

There are things we can do to turn this around but wearing ties, breast napkins, and suspenders is the kind of profiling we don’t need—we need the opposite.

A view from the bottom and not from the top.

posted by: LoveNH on September 17, 2013  11:01pm

The goals are many. The endpoint is
not simply to reward a student with a scholarship.
It is to reward a student, to create an educated citizenry,
to attract the already-motivated to New Haven
public schools…. to uplift our society.
I hope (think) we agree it is a good program.
Should it fund out of state college? I say no because it loses
part of its purpose.  Perhaps
you say yes (?) though I am not sure what you think.
Why the sassy sarcasm? Seriously, can we try a civil exchange
of viewpoints?

posted by: True that on September 18, 2013  4:14am

Full disclosure:  I say this a parent of a senior in New Haven Public Schools who will definitely be eligible for 100 percent tuition in the Promise Program.  The primary objective of the program, , as I have always understood it, is to promote a college going culture in New Haven Public Schools by making college attendance attainable.  If that is the case, then the focus should be upon encouraging students to go to college not just in Connecticut, or in the United States, but anywhere in the world.  If the program has the capacity to pay full tuition to in-state schools for our students, then it makes perfect sense for people to advocate that students be able to take the maximum payout (the equivalent of 100 percent tuition at UCONN), and use whatnot any post high school instituton of their choice.

What if none of the Connecticut state colleges offer the major that a NHPS graduate is seeking?  Should the student be required to forgoe his or her dream if he or she cannot afford the tuition elsewhere?

Comments about service to the community are spot on, but I would suggest the following:  make the scholarships transportable with the condition that all who take it out of state be required to spend the entire summer of each college year volunteering in one of the City’s summer program, or in a New Haven business.  In so doing, the city requires that students give back directly in the form of public service, and New Haven-based businesses get support as well.  You never know, our students might even land internships that lead to jobs in the New Haven, thereby addressing the concerns about keeping these kids in the state.  By the way, the idea of keeping them in the state is intellectually dishonest if there are no jobs for them to get.

posted by: Career High School Parent on September 18, 2013  11:17am

My daughter is a high school senior and in the throes of the college app process. Most of the schools on her list are OOS. The schools that ARE in state are private. So very little $$$ from the Promise program will be given to her should she decide to stay in state and zero if she heads to another…

Is this fair? YES. The rules are the rules. Would it be nice to have $$$ for OOS schools? Absolutely. Should she just settle for UCONN(SCSU, ECSU, WCSU, CCSU) so she can go for almost nothing? No. she must go to a school that will be a good fit for her and makes her happy…she has visited schools and has decided where she will apply. Should I pout and stomp my feet at the unfairness? No. It’s a decision that we will have to live with.

Where one applies to college is a choice. I agree with Destefano. Let’s keep the $$$ in state/public. If one wants to apply to Yale, Conn College and Wesleyan, then get your $$$ elsewhere….

Do most college students stay out of state post graduation? My guess is that most do. Can a study be done?

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on September 18, 2013  12:31pm

It is funny to me how all of these anonymous “voices” can speak with such assurance on what other people can do and MUST accept.  For all I know, these are people who would support the status quo under ANY circumstances because you are an intricate part of such and have benefitted from it for quite some time.

When you’re writing under made-up names, there is no way for the reader to be assured of the accuracy of your self-desrciptions and thus the level of your objectivity.

WestvilleCitizen, I don’t know who you are, but your characterzation of my comments as “sassy sarcasm” (what is that, anyhow?) misses the point that I am not as informed as you on EXACTLY what the Promise Scholarship’s “Purpose(s)” are, apparently.  You and “Career High Parent” (who has apparently thrown him/herself on their sword for the (sake of the greater good??) seem to suggest that rules made by human beings can and should never be questioned, and certainly can never be changed.  Your view on that is not atypical here in New Haven politics.

And perhaps some with that perspective think that I should apologize for suggesting that the “rules”, as they are, might derserve a change.  Well, I would make my apologies for that, except for one thing: I am a free citizen in a free country, and I don’t intend to give up my right to freedom of thought or speech.

I think the requirement that NH students attend in-state schools to get the Promise scholarship is wrong-headed, limiting, and unfair.  And I say that despite and because of the existence of “The Rules”.

posted by: Career High School Parent on September 18, 2013  2:08pm

@ Reverend Ross-Lee,

No one is saying that you should apologize for anything. Everyone has an opinion and I think it’s ok to disagree. I am not a supporter of Destefano, I actually voted for an opponent last fall. ...just because I agree with the Promise rules, doesn’t make me a Destefano croney. I’m actually glad that there will be new blood pumping through the arteries of New Haven soon.

And you think that I have benefitted? That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I am a single mother and raising two children without the benefit of my ex husbands help in any way shape or form. I have no connections to those whole hold office, are in power. I’m a working stiff just like everyone else. I struggle every day to make ends meet and ensure that my children are safe here on my gang laden street. So please, let’s not toss about assumptions!

A civil society needs opposing views. It doesn’t make any of us bad. If everyone agreed, where would this world be?

posted by: Radimom on September 18, 2013  8:45pm

Let’s put it out there. New Haven Promise is NOT that generous a scholarship program, with a few exceptions. First of all, note that it helps pay for “tuition” at state (and private) schools. Look closely at the tuition costs of the public schools.  (I just googled this again, to be sure of my figures—you can too).  UConn Tuition (not other fees, not room & board) is $9,256.  However, at SCSU, ECSU, & the other 2 state schools Tuition is $4,510 & the FEES (just additional fees, not room & board) range from $3,062 to $3,646. This means that a student living at home & going to SCSU only has TUITION covered by New Haven Promise, not the additional fees. But here is the kicker—New Haven Promise is “last money in.” Many New Haven students qualify for a full federal Pell grant, that is, $5,645 per year, toward their higher education. That means that none of those students, the ones that need the money MOST desperately, qualify for a penny of scholarship money from New Haven Promise, since their tuition is fully paid for by their Pell grant. They usually end up taking out loans just to pay for the rest of their fees, so they can go to college, but not even live on campus. Even a student going to UConn, with a Pell grant, will only receive the difference between the Pell grant and the total tuition cost. 

Several points:  money is money, and even a few thousand is helpful to families of very limited means. But for Yale or New Haven Promise to trumpet that this is a hugely generous program that is game-changing for students—not so much.It is currently set up so that it does not give the needed money to those who need it MOST. Also, far more generous financial aid is often offered by private colleges out of state, in the tens of thousands of dollars.The program should first of all, cover Tuition AND FEES, at the public in-state schools.  Secondly, it should certainly consider paying at least the $2,500 that it pays for private schools in CT, for any out of state schools.

posted by: Citizen X on September 18, 2013  10:03pm

I have never seen people whine and complain so much about a privately-funded scholarship program in my life. DeStefano is right, this is not an entitlement, which apparently has the entitled all up in arms!

posted by: True that on September 19, 2013  5:30am

@Ross-Lee is on point, as usual, and allow me to add this.  It’s interesting for DeStefano to use the words entitlement to describe any program, as his entire career in public service was a huge entitlement program for wealthy developers and the politically connected.  But I digress.

Given that Yale does not pay its air share of taxes, and if it did, we could probably fund the college education of every graduating high school senior who needs it, to describe this as “privately funded” is one of the biggest misnomer ever printed in this comment section.  I get the impression that so of the commenters here believe that we should all get on our knees and be grateful that Yale will provide $2500.00 to a high performing new haven senior to attend a $45,000 a year school in another state in the hopes that the $2500.00 will entice them to come back here to live and work.  Ridiculous.  Yale has a multi-billion dollar endowment that, at least in part, has been accumulated through actualized savings that result from their “non-profit, educationally institution” status that allows them to provide relatively meager “payments-on-lieu of taxes.”. If I had to choose between Yale paying its fair share of taxes, and disbanding the New Haven Promise, I would disband Promise and create one that has fidelity and addresses More meaningful college tuition challenges.  Yale isn’t doing us a favor, we are doing Yale a favor.  When, as a home and auto owner in New Haven, I pay a higher percentage in taxes than does Yale on what it owns, then something is very wrong with the system.

As Ross-Lee says, any program can be improved. People just need the courage and vision to make such improvements. If they could add an additional component as they have already done, why not consider other changes.

posted by: Radimom on September 19, 2013  8:28am

Of course it’s a private scholarship program, it’s Yale’s money, and they can do whatever they want with their money.  But for Yale to brag all over the place that this is hugely generous, or for NHPS constantly to tout this as some wonderful new game-changing program that it negotiated for its students—no.  It’s not that generous and it does not seem like it is worth all the hype it has been getting since its inception. (Big statistic in the above story—how many students APPLIED?  What does that prove?!) NHPS students could be far better served by smaller classes, one of the factors that could increase their achievement so that they could merit generous merit scholarships from the schools that offer it.

posted by: jepadilla on September 19, 2013  8:28am

The Promise Scholarship Program would be unnecesary if we kept the original promise made to our kids: to educate them and prepare them for adulthood. There is more than enough scholarship money available for lower income studnets to go to the college of their choice.

I have serious reservations about Promise money being used for “nonprofit”—the proper name is proprietary—schools.  These schools—you know who they are becuase they advertise everywhere—are not where we want our children going to school.  They are expensive, often do not offer an accredited degree or credential, leave students with significant debt loads, and the student loan default rates are by far the highest in the country.  Steering kids toward these schools is setting them up for failure academically and financially, becuase if they default on their student loans they are ruined financially.  As we all know, a student loan default is worse than defaulting on a mortgage and it will follow your credit history forever!  So in my opinion, Promise should revisit the idea of using its scholarship money to pay for these sham schools.

Requiring students who get a Promise Scholarship to do this or that in terms of community service smacks of academic servitude.  College students have enough to do already in their summers like work, go to summer school, participate in an internship, travel abroad in an academic program, etc.  To add on a requirement that they have to volunteer in New Haven during the summer seems a bit over the top.  I understand the logic, but if I were a student I would say it’s not worth it.

Finally, the reality is that $2500 is not much money for college.  While I am a fan of community college, $2500 will barely pay for a year of community college.  If I’m a parent of a NH high school student, my advice to my child would be to forget about Promise and just focus on getting the best grades he/she can get. They will have many options beyond Promise as a result.

posted by: Radimom on September 19, 2013  8:46am


I believe what you mean is “for profit” schools. 

Aside from that, the rest of your points are very well taken.  Yale, QU, and the rest, are the “non-profit” schools.  I believe New Haven Promise does not pay for For Profit schools, though I would have to check its rules again.  Federal aid, however, does pay for those—that is another discussion, which is now taking place on the federal level—sort of.

As far as community college, Gateway is something like $3680 per year. Again, the lowest income NHPS students, will get Gateway fully paid for (plus their book costs) by the federal Pell Grant (therefore no New Haven Promise money).  So it is only the middle class NHPS students, who do not get Pell or only get a partial grant, that would get any NH Promise money for Gateway.

posted by: Citizen X on September 19, 2013  1:34pm

Radimom has failed to mention significant issues in her critique of Yale giving City students free money to attend college.

First, the students have yet to be fully funded. This year’s graduating class will be the first 100 percent recipients, and doing some educated guesswork after studying the numbers in the graphic, the 2014 graduates will average between $4k and $5k a year.

Yes it would be more, but most of the students are already getting federal funds (which are the gift from taxpayers) to cover a significant portion of their need.

Your complaint about ‘fees’ should be put to the universities, not Yale or New Haven Promise.

In the end, I remain astounded about the crass whining from people about a private entity giving free money so that students can attend college.

Good grief, if you can find such negativity in that, I’d suspect you would not be very joyful to be around.

posted by: Radimom on September 20, 2013  9:17am

@Ct. X.
Let’s reread that. I am NOT critical of Yale giving out scholarship money. I AM critical of Yale and NHBOE bragging about this as some overly generous program that helps those who are most in need (& of the program trumpeting how many students apply, as a significant figure). As I pointed out, it does not even pay one cent towards college expenses (even when fully funded & paying 100% of Tuition to the 4 state schools, excluding UConn)for students who need it most, receiving full Pell grants.
We all know about state school tuition, so I am not complaining about fees, I am stating that NH Promise could cover those as well.  If state institutions try to raise tuition, legislators have to approve it—& then we, their constituents, will have conniptions about public school tuition increasing.  Therefore state schools can increase costs by raising FEES—this is their choice & I believe they can do this w/out legislative approval.  Their actions, while not immutable, are far more difficult to change, than for NH Promise to lobby Yale to increase its support by paying for tuition AND fees, at CT state schools. I don’t know how many Promise Scholars qualify for a full Pell grant (thus getting Zero dollars from Promise) but I bet it’s no more than 60—80 (I’m sure NH Promise knows).  Therefore, at, say, $2,000 per student (to cover tuition and fees at SCSU & etc.)this would cost the program $160,000. That’s real money, but it’s a drop in the bucket for Yale, and for the greater chance that would REALLY give more ambitious NH students.
Rumor has it that NH Promise is not even giving away the money it had planned to, so I posit that this would be quite affordable for Yale.
Yes, I am a crabby person when it comes to institutions bragging that they have done some big generous deed which is not all it’s cracked up to be—and when they could do more, affordably even.  Your final comment,however, was not necessary & does not further the discussion.

posted by: Radimom on September 20, 2013  9:20am

There has been a TeacherPrep program and significant scholarship help for some years, at SCSU, connected with at least one NHPS.  SCSU could be contacted to see if this program is still in place. Its intention is precisely what you describe.
It’s also possible that it was cut with state funding cuts. Several rather generous state scholarships have been cut due to said state budget cuts.