COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — City leaders have announced that the Columbus Promise program has nearly met its phase one fundraising goal.  

A release from the city states that nearly 1,000 seniors with Columbus City Schools have applied for the free college program, with more than 70% of those already meeting all requirements to enroll.  

The Columbus Promise program has also nearly met its phase one fundraising goal of $9.5 million to help the CCS graduating classes of 2022, 2023 and 2024 attend Columbus State Community College for free.

“We believe in students, and we are excited that they are believing in themselves by taking the first steps to apply for Columbus State,” said Council President Shannon G. Hardin, who announced the program in November with Columbus State President David T. Harrison, Columbus City Schools Superintendent Talisa Dixon, and I Know I Can Executive Director Katina Fullen. “This first class is critical to testing the program’s design because our hope is to expand it. I cannot thank our partners enough for the hard work to get this first group on the path to certificates, degrees and a career.”

As of May 1, 728 CCS students have completed the Columbus Promise application, FAFSA, the Columbus State application, and all they have left to do to qualify is graduate, according to the release. At least another 150 seniors have started the application process but not yet completed it. The application will reopen this May at and will close on August 15. 

“The only way we will achieve our full potential as a city is if everyone shares in our collective success, particularly our young people, who deserve each and every opportunity to succeed in and out of the classroom,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “The Columbus Promise is a terrific example of this aspiration in action, and I am so excited to see the program press forward with great momentum and enthusiasm from across the community.”

The Columbus Promise program is a public-private partnership projected to cost $9.5 million through June 2025. The City of Columbus and Columbus State Community College have pledged $5 million to the effort, while philanthropic and private sector contributions have totalled $4.105 million, leaving about $395,000 left to raise.