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Students listen to the announcement in Neodesha's high school

Gift makes free college available to all students for next 25 years

Students in Neodesha, Kan. are celebrating after a local resident has ensured they can each attend college or trade school for free.

The city is now the first “Promise” community of Kansas, offering Bachelor and Associate degree scholarships for the next 25 years to any student in the school district.

The scholarship is being funded by Ben Cutler, a Neodesha native that wants to see his hometown grow.

Students were informed during a special assembly at the Neodesha High School.

“I feel extremely fortunate because I get to go to college not having to worry about money, and getting to focus on my grades and the activities that I want to be involved in,” says senior Kodi Taylor of the announcement.

The Neodesha Promise Scholarship program will make it possible for every qualified Neodesha High School graduate to attend any U.S. Pell Grant–approved college, community college or technical school of their choice.

The award will cover tuition and mandatory fees for up to 120 credit hours of study for a bachelor’s degree and up to 60 credit hours of study for an associates’ degree or technical certification.

Awards will be capped at the highest tuition at a Kansas public college for in-state students.

Anchor funding for the program is provided by the Marilyn Cram Cutler Charitable Foundation.

Neodesha will be the first Kansas community to adopt a PromiseNet college scholarship program. Started over 15 years ago in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by a grant from a small group of anonymous donors, a scholarship model was created to award scholarships to any qualifying graduate of the Kalamazoo school system.

Shortly after the Kalamazoo promise was established, a similar program was launched in El Dorado, Arkansas from a grant provided by Murphy Oil Company. Over the past 15 years, close to 100 other communities have adopted similar programs.

The Neodesha Promise scholarship is designed to enhance students’ preparation for completing their chosen post-secondary education pathway. The program will provide enabling financial support via scholarship awards to qualifying Neodesha High School graduates and also provide other resources and support services necessary to maximize the Promise program’s effectiveness.

“We envision many more students taking advantage of post-secondary education opportunities and hopefully also enhancing the Neodesha community as an attractive place to live and work,” said Don Adams, Advisory Board Member of The Neodesha Promise Program.

“I think we need to become a much more college-bound focused community,” explains Cutler. “We need to help these kids realize that there are opportunities for all of them and help them pursue their dreams.”

Cutler hopes the scholarship will not only help students but also draw more families to the area that want their kids to have a guaranteed education.

But for those seniors right now, they’re still trying to find out how to express their gratitude.

“This means I’m not going to die in debt, my kids aren’t going to die in debt… it’s just a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” says senior Brooklyn Brant. “Now that I know that my college is paid for, it’ll be a lot easier, and I’m really looking forward to pursuing my dreams.”

Website for more details on eligibility for the free college requirements: may be found here: https://www.neodeshapromise.org/

–Metro Voice