OT: Anyone move family to Detroit for 100% free U-M tuition?

Submitted by chuck bass on November 14th, 2017 at 10:01 AM

Detroit Promise gives families with a Detroit proper address four years of free in-state college tuition if their child attends a Detroit high school, public or private (e.g., UD-Jesuit), for four years. Has this lured any Metro Detroit middle / upper middle class into Detroit?

Worth about $60K at UM's (and Wayne State's, MSU's) current tuition rate or up to $160K at Albion's and UD-Mercy's private college rate. I assume four years of Detroit taxes, home & auto insurance eat into a decent chunk of the gift.



rob f

November 14th, 2017 at 10:09 AM ^

comparing them to what the similar Kalamazoo Promise offers, I'd move to Kalamazoo instead. But that's just me, and besides, all 3 of my kids are grown and finished with school.

rob f

November 14th, 2017 at 10:41 AM ^

While that's completely correct about the Kalamazoo Promise (that college tuition is prorated according to # of years of k-12 enrollment in Kalamazoo schools), I'd prefer to not bounce my kids suddenly to inner-city Detroit high schools solely for free college tuition.

While Kalamazoo schools aren't the best in the state, the city of Kalamazoo still has a lot of desirable neighborhoods in which to live and raise kids. Only way I consider living in Detroit is as a young professional wanting the vibrant downtown environment to enjoy.


November 14th, 2017 at 4:32 PM ^

Is the last time you've been in Detroit? the better neighborhoods have improved dramatically. Services have gone up, and taxes have gone down. private schools in Detroit are also pretty good depending on which one you choose. I'm just saying, your decision may not be as informed as you think.


November 14th, 2017 at 10:30 AM ^

I don't think the OP's details are right.  The Detroit Promise is for two years at five participating community colleges.


In a nutshell:

In March of 2016, Mayor Mike Duggan announced the Detroit Promise Zone authority which was created to dedicate a portion of tax dollars to permanently fund the two-year scholarships. The Detroit Promise will continue to operate as it has in the past, with support from the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation* as the transition to the Detroit Promise moves forward.

In partnership with the city’s Detroit Promise Zone, the Detroit Promise, administered by the Detroit Regional Chamber, ensures that any Detroit-resident student graduating in the spring of 2017 from a high school in the city of Detroit will have a tuition-free path to an associate degree, technical certificate**, or bachelors degree at any one of five participating community colleges or 17 four-year universities.


November 14th, 2017 at 10:33 AM ^

I could be wrong, but I'm assuming that OP was in suburban Detroit , so could move to Detroit without totally uprooting, switching jobs, etc. Also, probably has kid(s) close to highschool and the Kalamazoo Promise is only fully funded if you go K-12 (though just attending highschool still gets you 65% of tuition in Kalamazoo).

That said, I grew up in Kalamazoo (though a few years too early for the Promise), have family who has returned to Kalamazoo so their kids will get the promise, and generally think it's a great city.



November 14th, 2017 at 3:37 PM ^

the Kzoo promise?  Growth in the area, increase in college enrollment rates, etc? Compared to comparable Western Michigan cities (Muskegon, GR, Battle Creek) would be most useful since the whole area is booming.

Curious how that is perceived to be working.  Must be pretty good if Detroit is emulating.

Michigan Philosophy

November 14th, 2017 at 10:19 AM ^

You would assume wrong. Taxes and insurance are high in Detroit, but not that high once you factor in what you save on everything else. I drive a 2017 Lincoln MKZ and pay $2100 a year. This is with good credit and no tickets etc. Not ideal. I bought my home for 60k and pay $1100 a year on taxes. So $3,200. If you sold your home in the burbs and moved to Detroit you could buy a house here cash or at the very least be paying way less per month on a loan. Moving to Detroit was the best financial move I've ever made.


November 14th, 2017 at 10:38 AM ^

While your amount tends to fall more or less in line with the Wayne County average of about 2% of assessed value (which is high by national standards actually), the point stands. Unless you live in the less fashionable parts of downriver Wayne County like I do, you're paying 2-3 times that, perhaps more if you live in the upwardly mobile parts of, say, Plymouth and Northville. 


November 14th, 2017 at 1:12 PM ^

I live in one of the historical districts near Woodward and 8Mile.  Bought my house as a fixer upper for $90K in 2014, despite there being a cash offer of $130K.  There's not a single move-in ready house in those neighborhoods that have sold for less than $200K since 2015.  And the taxes are in the $5-$6K range.

I'm not complaining because my house now appraises for near $400K, but buying in Detroit is not as great of a deal as it once was.  You have to look harder to find a great deal.


November 14th, 2017 at 10:22 AM ^

Wife and I are considering this. As a quasi-foodie/hipster with a young family, I would much rather move to Detroit than KZoo. Detroit is getting hip. Too hip actually; the home prices are beginning to rival ours in Charleston, SC (another city which is too hip for it's own good). But if we want our daughter to be able to consider UofM, we need an incentive like this.


November 14th, 2017 at 10:32 AM ^

When I drive through Detroit and see the homes. Hip is not what I think.  Now, maybe Its hip to go to the nice areas that have been built up for buisness. But 3rd world is what i see in Detroit houses .

Also you have to see what the Detroit schools look like . How well will your kids fit in there, and how safe will they be attending them ? Have you looked up any ratings for Detroit schools? You should really come out here and see for yourself before moving from so far away .

chuck bass

November 14th, 2017 at 10:55 AM ^

Neighborhoods like Palmer Woods, Boston Edison, Indian Village and the Berry Subdivision (where the mayor and Kid Rock live) have a lot of professionals living in restored historic mansions. You could also live in a hip Cork Town or Midtown condo - or high-rise apartment in The Westin Book Cadillac. But yes, obviously this incentive is to lure suburban families into making a few quality of life sacrifices.


November 14th, 2017 at 5:07 PM ^

I've lived the majority of my life in Chicago, but was born in Detroit (my father worked over 30 years with GM and move around a bunch).  My parents met while attending UofD.  My dad likes to take people on tours of Detroit (he especially likes what they are doing with the old Packard plant).  So I've seen a lot Detroit, probably more than a lot of Detroit suburbanites.

Outside of a couple nice pockets, Detroit is still colloquially "third world" IMO.  There is no real objective measure to state that Detroit is a good safe city to live in.  At least not yet.  Its making progress though, but it will take a generation or 2 before its even approaches an average American city.   


November 14th, 2017 at 11:34 AM ^

I am a city person for sure, but as someone who grew up in Kalamazoo and visits Detroit regularly it's hard for me to imagine wanting to raise a young family in (the city of) Detroit instead of (the city of) Kalamazoo. No, it's not as "hip" as the limited "hip" parts of Detroit, but there's plenty there and you have access to much better schools at much lower cost, not to mention the crime situation.

And if you're a real foodie, stop by Nonla next time you pass Kalamazoo on 94. Better Vietnamese than anything in Detroit.



November 14th, 2017 at 6:41 PM ^

Not to mention the fact that, really, the nice parts are mostly nice by comparison to what they used to look like. 

I work in Detroit and am something of a Detroit hipster, but this is my confession: Compared to almost anywhere outside of the Rust Belt, Detroit is nothing special and lacks 90% of the amenities of other cities. It may be impressive to your aunt who's never left Sterling Heights, but I've lived in London and Toronto and  a handful of brunch places scattered around Michigan Ave and Cass does not a vibrant, hip big city make. 


November 14th, 2017 at 10:37 AM ^

But like most private liberal arts schools Albions hands out scholarships like candy, they claim 98% of students receive a scholarship. And I recall back when I was comparing schools ten years ago the scholarships offered had their tuition in line with public school tuition.  Can't say if that has changed in 10 years though.


November 14th, 2017 at 12:10 PM ^

I used to work at a private school and any student who applied for it would get a 12k scholarship just for applying...You could get up to 16k if your GPA/ACT was higher...And that didn't include any other scholarships the school offered. The school was like 30k a year, but the discount rate was 50 percent so the average student was paying 15k a year. 


November 14th, 2017 at 10:35 AM ^

Probably not many.  DPS is largely a disaster (Exceptions of Cass Tech and Renaissance which both are selective admission) and UD Jesuit's tuition for high school is about 12K as well. 


November 14th, 2017 at 10:42 AM ^

This is crucial. If you're moving from suburban public to Detroit private, I would guess you're going to lose a lot of the tuition savings.

Would be moot if you're already planning to go the private highschool route. Also, you might get scholarships to the private highschools, but if you're getting that you'd probably also be getting similar scholarships to Michigan or other public universities.


November 14th, 2017 at 1:02 PM ^

Or instead of paying high school tuition at a private school you could invest in a college savings account.  You'd only need to make 5% for the 12.7K a year to cover the full cost of tuition at umich LSA.  And you aren't constrained to living in Detroit.


year investment Running Total return
1 12700 12700 1.05
2 12700 26035  
3 12700 40036.75  
4 12700 54738.5875  
5 -14498 42977.51688  
6 -14498 30628.39272  
7 -16368 15791.81235  
8 -16368 213.4029724  



November 14th, 2017 at 8:25 PM ^

Yay math and living frugally!

Imagine if you started saving - even a little - when your kid is born.  As little as $2k a year, with a return of 5%, can essentially cover most of college.


  Balance Addition
1 2000 2000
2 4100 2000
3 6305 2000
4 8620.25 2000
5 11051.26 2000
6 13603.83 2000
7 16284.02 2000
8 19098.22 2000
9 22053.13 2000
10 25155.79 2000
11 28413.57 2000
12 31834.25 2000
13 35425.97 2000
14 39197.26 2000
15 43157.13 2000
16 47314.98 2000
17 51680.73 2000
18 56264.77 2000
19 41078.01 -18000
20 25131.91 -18000
21 8388.504 -18000
22 -9192.07 -18000

Some people will say "$2k is easier said than done."  I say bull.  If you have a job and plan on supporting kids, you can find $2k a year to put away towards their college. You can probably even do it without eating into your retirement savings.  Phone and cable exceed $2k/year for most people.

Factor in tax benefits and you're not really even shelling out 2k a year.  


November 14th, 2017 at 11:00 AM ^

Cass Tech and Renaissance are selective admission though. So you can't guarantee your kids will be able to attend just by moving into the district.   And UD Jesuit costs 12K a year for high school tuition which if you don't qualify for their financial aid you are going to eat up a big chunk of the promise savings in high school tuition.