Now in its third year of operation, the inaugural graduating class from LeBron James’ I Promise School will receive free tuition to attend Kent State University.
Representatives from Kent State surprised the 11th-grade-students with the announcement of free tuition and one year of room and board, according to BleacherReport.com. The oldest class of the 193 students attending I Promise are currently in their junior year. They will be eligible for the free tuition offer from Kent State beginning with the 2021-22 academic year.
James opened the public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, in 2018 through the LeBron James Family Foundation to specifically help at-risk youth. The James Foundation has been working in the community for nearly a decade, focusing on educating children from difficult backgrounds.
“The I PROMISE program is built on the ‘earned, not given’ philosophy,” said Michele Campbell, executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation. “We are so excited that our students that have worked incredibly hard have earned even more life-changing opportunities to grow and excel.”
Although free, the program does come with a few stipulations: to be eligible for the free tuition, I PROMISE students must be successfully admitted to Kent State, fill out required financial aid forms, and complete a requisite number of community service hours each semester. In addition, Kent State is also launching a fundraising effort to help these students with any additional expenses, including books and the remaining three years of room and board, according to wkyc.com.
According to valuepenguin.com, the average cost of college for the 2017–2018 school year was $20,770 for public schools (in-state) and $46,950 for nonprofit private schools, only including tuition, fees, and room and board. As a result, oftentimes youth from disenfranchised backgrounds are forced to skip college or fail to finish because they cannot afford it or are unable to secure a loan. Needless to say, a free ride to attend college is a huge deal for the students at James’ public school.