White Paper: The Power of a Promise: Implications and Importance of Adult Promise Programs

Promise programs (also known as free college programs) have grown in popularity over the last few years. When targeted correctly, these programs have the potential to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation rates for underserved students. By focusing a promise program on adult students and including additional supports and services, states can connect with nontraditional students who previously believed college was not an option. However, the message of a promise program is strong and should not be misused. This paper helps to define the concept of a promise program for adults, discusses the value proposition of a promise, provides an overview of current and proposed promise programs, and outlines critical considerations for states considering an adult promise program.