Florida, Michigan, California Colleges Have Yet to Agree to D.C. Tuition Plan

Article excerpt

The District of Columbia's new tuition assistance program, which gives the city's high school graduates up to $10,000 a year to attend public colleges and universities across the country, is being criticized by a handful of schools who are refusing to participate.

Calling some of the program's rules and regulations too cumbersome and restrictive--particularly when taking into account the small number of Washington students planning to attend their respective schools -- the University of Florida, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of California system and at least one institution of the State University of New York are a few of the schools that have not yet signed up to participate.

The program was established to give Washington residents the opportunity to attend schools outside the city at in-state tuition rates and to encourage more families to live in the city. City officials also say the plan could help colleges across the country achieve their student diversity goals, considering the demographics of the nation's capital (see Black Issues, Aug. 31). The program also offers grants of $2,500 a year to students who attend private colleges in the Washington area or historically Black private colleges in Maryland and Virginia.

One key sticking point is the program's refund policy. Should a student decide to leave the institution early, university financial aid officials say that the refund policy could cost them more in the end because they would have to give back whatever money they got from the government.

Laurent Ross, director of the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program, says he's sympathetic to the problem. However, some of the refund polices, particularly regarding federal aid, are dictated by government regulations. Ross says that his office has actively been working to revise its roles to meet the schools' request.

"We've met them about three-quarters of the way," he says. Ross has since told the schools that they could use their own institutional refund policies.

The other glitch the schools are finding fault with is the "supplement and not supplant issue," Ross says. …