Lawmakers trying to get free college for Flint students - WNEM TV 5

Lawmakers trying to get free college for Flint students

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

College tuition costs seem to rise every year and student debt continues to climb with it.

There's a renewed push to help high school graduates pursue a college education in Mid-Michigan's biggest city. State legislatures are leading the push to make the city of Flint a promise zone to help cover college costs.

"If you stick with Flint and you make it through and your kids graduate schools here in Flint, we are going to promise to you that we are going to pay for a four year degree at a Michigan school for each child in your family that does that," State Rep. Phil Phelps said.

It's a promise Phelps is pushing for this legislative session and it has bipartisan support from Gov. Rick Snyder.

With graduation rates in the 50 percent rage in Flint, a promise zone would provide scholarships for city students to attend two or four year colleges.

"Without raising taxes at all and it wouldn't divert money or take away money from other programs at all. It's a local financing tool," Phelps said.

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm established promise zones in Michigan's impoverished communities. A pack of legislators from Flint are pushing to start one there.

"The benefits of promise zone are both education and benefits for the city. Attendance goes up, overall testing scores go up in schools, graduation rates go up," Phelps said.

He said with attendance rates down across Flint, promise zones have helped get those numbers back up.

"Promise zones actually help increase graduation rates overall like we've seen in other areas that have promise zone like the city of Saginaw," Phelps said.

Snyder's office said they want to see promise zone expansion to Flint move through the legislative process this year.

Phelps, who represents a portion of Flint, said the city needs a promise zone more more than ever.

"I'm hopeful that we're going to get this legislation passed this session," Phelps said.

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