New Haven offers its students free college tuition

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Public high school students in New Haven now have another reason to go to college: free tuition.

City and school officials announced on Tuesday that a new program, called New Haven Promise, would offer to pay eligible students’ way through any public college or university in Connecticut. The program will also pay up to $2,500 a year to those who attend a private college in the state.

The program — to cost $4.5 million a year, financed primarily by Yale University — is open to students who live in the city and have attended its public schools, including charter schools, since at least ninth grade, regardless of family income. Students must also have at least a 3.0 grade point average and a 90 percent attendance rate.

About 200 of the 1,000 graduates last year would have qualified, city officials said.

“It provides a direct path for students to go to college,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said in a telephone interview on Monday. “There’s a rich universe of colleges in Connecticut that will serve these students well.”

Mr. DeStefano said the program was intended to curb a citywide high school dropout rate of 38 percent and cultivate a college-going culture, as well as to provide an economic incentive for families to move to New Haven. Students will qualify for the financial aid on a sliding scale, with those who started in city schools at kindergarten receiving the most, 100 percent of their tuition. Students who arrived in the ninth grade will receive 65 percent.

Students will have to maintain a grade point average of 2.5 in college to continue receiving the tuition money, valued at up to $8,000 a year for a public college.

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