Currently, the legislative powers that be are arguing amongst themselves in Lansing over plans to eliminate the Michigan Promise Scholarship. Anxiously awaiting their decision are more than 1,000 NMU students and 95,000 other college students across the state, all of whom are depending on that money for financial aid this year.
The scholarship gives $4,000 to Michigan high school graduates who have completed two years of post secondary education and score adequately on all components of the Michigan Merit Exam. It was created to open the doors of higher education for students who otherwise may not be able to afford it, but those doors may now be closing.
The loss of the Michigan Promise Scholarship would be a blow to the spirits of students in need, and to the morale of an already struggling state.
This cutback is the result of Michigan’s $1.8 billion budget deficit. By eliminating the scholarship, the state would save an estimated $140 million. While it may seem like a lot of money to the state, you can’t put a dollar sign on the opportunity pressured students stand to lose.
Some students will no longer be able to attend college and some have already been forced to drop with the prospect of not having this financial aid. We can only think that this number will increase if this scholarship is taken away for good.
With the current economy, students can’t always afford a state college education, even at Northern, which still boasts the second-lowest tuition rate in Michigan. And every year tuition costs rise even as state funding to universities declines.
In addition, part-time jobs, which are often used to bridge the financial gaps, are hard to come by, especially in Michigan where unemployment is the highest in the nation.
One way to stimulate a suffering economy is to produce more college graduates, but we can’t expect more of them in Michigan unless we continue to help fund higher education. In order to build the high-tech, progressive workforce Michigan really needs, education is key and so are the students this scholarship helps.
Especially in a recession, any sort of aid to higher education should not be the funding taking a hit. Legislators in the state of Michigan need to look elsewhere to make the necessary cuts. Lets not break the promises made to Michigan’s college students. They’ve earned this scholarship and now its time we find a way for them to keep it. Higher education is something we cannot afford to lose.