Wayne State University offers free tuition for Detroit students & residents with Heart of Detroit tuition pledge

Provost Keith Whitfield announces the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge

Wayne State University today announced the establishment of the Heart of Detroit tuition pledge, which will provide free tuition for graduates of a Detroit high school or Detroit residents earning a high school diploma, and admitted to Wayne State University as a full-time freshman in fall 2020.

The Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge could potentially provide free tuition to the 49,276 students currently enrolled in Detroit Public Schools and thousands of other Detroit residents.

Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson emceed the event, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Chrystal Wilson were all on hand at the Communication and Media Arts High School in Detroit for the announcement.

“This is a tremendous day for Wayne State and for Detroit students,” said WSU President M. Roy Wilson. “This initiative aligns perfectly with many of our institutional values. Opportunity, accessibility and affordability are all pillars of the high quality education we provide, and the Heart of Detroit tuition pledge delivers on all those values. With the countless resources and opportunities on campus and the exciting resurgence in Detroit, it’s never been a better time to be a Warrior.”

The Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge fills the gap to cover tuition and mandatory fees. The tuition pledge will launch in the fall of 2020. To be eligible for the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Live in the city of Detroit and have graduated from high school or have graduated from any Detroit high school (public, private, charter, parochial, or home school program) in 2020 or after.
  • Join RaiseMe, a Wayne State partner, which allows high school students to log their achievements and activities to earn micro-scholarships.
  • Receive admission to Wayne State University as a first-time, full-time freshman in fall 2020 or after.
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1, for the following fall.

“The Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge reaffirms Wayne State’s long-standing commitment to the city and its residents,” said Wayne State Provost Keith Whitfield. “This solidifies our status as the university of choice for Detroit students. I’d like to thank Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Dawn Medley and her team for making this scholarship a reality.”

Wayne State is recognized as the leading institution in the state of Michigan for diversity and access, and the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge is the most recent addition to a robust suite of programs designed to help everyone who wants to earn a college degree achieve that goal.

  • The Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge will be available to eligible first-time freshmen and expand on the current Wayne ACCESS award, which has enabled more than 2,300 students statewide to enroll with zero out-of-pocket expenses for tuition and fees since its introduction in fall 2017.
  • Since 2011, Wayne State has partnered with the Detroit Regional Chamber in support of the Detroit Promise program, which has offered scholarships to unlimited Detroit students.
  • In 2017, Detroit was designated a Talent Hub by the Lumina Foundation and The Kresge Foundation. This designation recognizes cities that meet rigorous standards for creating environments that attract, retain and cultivate talent, particularly among today’s students — many of whom are people of color, the first in their families to go to college and from low-income households. Detroit is one of only 24 Talent Hubs in the country. As a Talent Hub, the city and its stakeholders — including Wayne State University — have committed to work together to help address the growing demand for workers with an education beyond high school.
  • Also in 2017, WSU launched the Warrior Way Back program – a novel approach to re-engaging students who left the university with debt but without a degree. There are nearly 700,000 people in the Detroit area with some college, but no degree. To date, the program has helped more than 100 students re-enroll and work toward degree completion at WSU, and has served as a national model for other universities looking to welcome back returning students.
  • In April 2019, WSU joined the Detroit Regional Chamber to help create a regional debt forgiveness program, which was designed based on the Warrior Way Back program.

Here’s what others said about the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge:

Gov. Whitmer

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer: “Every Michigander deserves an affordable post secondary education, and Wayne State has been a tremendous leader on this issue. Earlier this year, I announced a statewide goal of reaching 60 percent of Michiganders with a post secondary degree or certificate by 2030, and the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge will bring us one step closer to meeting that goal. I’m eager to work with leaders like Mayor Duggan, President Wilson, and anyone else who wants to bring down the cost of a college education for everyone in Michigan. We can start by implementing the MI Opportunity Scholarship that I announced earlier this year, which will ensure every high school graduate has a tuition-free pathway to a community college education, and ensure that a four-year degree is much more affordable for low- and middle-income families. Let’s get to work

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan: “This is a fantastic commitment from President Wilson and Wayne State University to help open the doors to a world class education to even more Detroiters at a highly respected university, right here in their home town. Now, any Detroiter who meets the basic eligibility requirements will be able to earn a four-year degree tuition free.”

Kim Trent

Kimberly Trent, chairperson, Wayne State University Board of Governors: “Our commitment to our students is unwavering, especially when it comes to providing accessibility and affordability to every student who wants a Wayne State University education. The Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge reaches far beyond most financial aid offers and creates a covenant between the university and the people of Detroit that will last for generations.

Dawn Medley


Dawn Medley, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management: “We are thrilled to be able to provide the students of Detroit with a free college education. Wayne State has always been committed to access and the Heart of Detroit allows us to continue that mission. We have no greater resource than our children and their education should be the number one priority of all higher education institutions.”


For complete information about the scholarship, visit wayne.edu/scholarships/heartofdetroit


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