Entire 8th grade class promised free tuition in Michigan
TOWNSHIP OF MUSKEGON, Michigan (WOOD) – Leaders of a Michigan State University made a surprise announcement Thursday night at an eighth-grade graduation ceremony.
All Timberland Charter Academy graduates will receive free tuition at Grand Valley State University as long as they graduate from high school with at least a 2.8 GPA.
The announcement was made to around 40 students after the graduation ceremony.
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The academy is the first school selected for the program in West Michigan.
The students knew a major announcement would be made, but they didn’t know what it might be.
“I kind of felt like it was something about college,” student Aniyah Thomas said.
Her mother, Gloria Hammond, said the news was a relief for parents.
“It’s exciting for our kids to have the ability to go to college if they want to go without having to pay for it and that barrier has been broken for them,” Hammond said.
Valedictorian Jemarion Brown, who picked up multiple awards at the ceremony, didn’t expect such a big announcement. Her mother, Candace Cook, said this opportunity would help so many young lives.
“It’s a great school for him, and I’m extremely happy they chose Timberland for that. It’s a blessing,” Brown said.
Stephen Evans, the school’s principal, said the announcement includes additional funding to help cover other college expenses.
“The program offers free tuition, tutoring, and a variety of support programs. You name it. Everything a student will need to be successful at the college level and the system we’re going to put in place at the high school level at Timberland to support them through high school,” Evans said.
GVSU leaders say it may take some time for the impact of the announcement to settle in for students.
Barry Hall, associate director of charter through college at GVSU, was the keynote speaker and announced the surprise.
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“Once they have sophomores and sophomores and colleges talk to them, say how much it costs to go here, this whole entrance process, they’re going to be like, ‘Wow, I’ve already been accepted into a school already, and I know what that process is about,” Hall said.
Money for tuition comes from the Grand Valley Pledge program.
Parents can also apply for scholarships to help them with their degrees.