Lansing could break 'Promise,' put end to scholarship program

Thousands of Michigan college students may soon have to say goodbye to the Michigan Promise Scholarship if proposed budget cuts get the final approval from state lawmakers this week.

The scholarship program, enacted by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006, is designed to provide high school graduates with up to $4,000 after successfully completing two years of postsecondary education beginning with the graduating class of 2007.

To be eligible, students must meet certain marks including having a grade point average of 2.5 or higher as well as taking the Michigan Educational Assessment Program or the Michigan Merit Exam.

The program came under fire after discussion began on how to solve the $2.8 billion state deficit for fiscal year 2010, which begins Oct.1. The state’s Republican-led Senate voted to eliminate the scholarship in June. Last week, House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford, and Senate Majority Leader, Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, agreed on cuts totaling $1.7 billion, cuts that included the scholarship program.
Though Granholm has said she opposes the proposed cuts, the future of the Michigan Promise Scholarship is still uncertain.

“We are going to have a Michigan Promise Scholarship,” Granholm said last month in the Detroit Free Press. “The question is, is it going to have to take a haircut?”

A total of approximately 1,500 Eastern Michigan University students have earned this scholarship, said Bernice Lindke, President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at EMU. That adds up to $1.5 million in financial aid that EMU students may not receive.

Fortunately, EMU has not seen this affect enrollment this year. Enrollment numbers are higher than last year’s, Lindke said.

When asked if students have been taking out more loans to supplement the possible loss of the scholarship, Cynthia Van Pelt, Director of Financial Aid at EMU, said no.

“I think when we’re going to see a real influx [of students loans] is when [the state] makes a decision,”
Van Pelt said.

The state budget is slated to be finalized by Oct. 1, so students will have to hold their breaths a little longer.

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