"Free college" actually costs a lot of money

It would cost up to $200 million to provide college scholarships to graduates of the Cincinnati; Covington, Kentucky; and Newport, Kentucky, public-school systems, according to the Cincinnati-based Strive education partnership. Supporters of the nascent program to promise the scholarships also would have to come up with $500 million to endow a self-sustaining scholarship pool, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Strive leaders have been researching whether a scholarship program similar to that operating in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is feasible for their communities. In Kalamazoo, the program has made it possible for needy students to go to college and it even has attracted families to live in a city hard hit by tough economic times and serious job losses.

Northern Kentucky University President James Votruba said any scholarship program for the Cincinnati region would require support from local funders and national foundations, perhaps even federal grants, according to Enquirer reporters Ben Fischer and Cliff Peale (see here).

Even if these big bucks can be raised, there are additional hurdles. Strive released a report (see here) recently showing fewer than half of incoming kindergartners in the three public-school systems are prepared for academic success in later grades. Students leaving those systems also are less likely to graduate from college than their peers.

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