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Budget Solutions for the Michigan Promise Scholarship

With Michigan lawmakers going on vacation for the next two weeks, the future of the Michigan Promise Scholarship remains unclear. As things stand, the program is still part of the Michigan budget but is funded with a scant $100 as a kind of place holder for further discussion.

What is the Michigan Promise Scholarship?

In very simple terms, it is a state grant that awards $4,000 to Michigan students who complete two-years of post-secondary education with a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

The program expanded upon the Michigan Merit Award (an achievement-based scholarship) to allow more Michigan residents an opportunity to attend college. Of course, it also encourages students to attend a Michigan school.

Unfortunately, the Michigan Senate has plans to eliminate the program as of October 1st, 2009 – along with several need-based scholarship programs — as a means of balancing the budget. The Republican-backed bill now goes to the Democrat-controlled House, however, so there is still hope.

So, what ideas are being floated around in compromise?
  • Reduce the amount of the grant from $4,000 to $2,000 and/or eliminate the front-loading option that currently allows some students to receive part of the award before starting college

  • Instead of eliminating specific scholarship programs (both merit- and need-based), cut all scholarship programs by 10%

  • Restrict program participation by increasing student performance requirements, putting a cap on household income, and/or limiting the grant to students attending a public Michigan university

  • Limit the grant to students who attend a public Michigan university

  • Eliminate the program over time so as to not unduly burden families that are relying on Michigan’s promise for the 2009-2010 academic year

  • Cover the budget gap through the:

    • Use of Federal-stimulus funds
    • Elimination of tax breaks on international telephone calls and vending machine sales
    • Imposition of higher taxes on tobacco products
    • Elimination of the $30 million allocated for Michigan tourism promotion, and/or
    • Restriction of the film-incentive package

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