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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Promise may return as tax credit

Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced her recommendation to bring back the Michigan Promise Scholarship in a new form in her executive budget on Thursday, Feb. 11.

The Promise Scholarship was an award given to high school students who qualified after taking the Michigan Merit Exam (MME). The program was cut last fall during Michigan lawmakers’ attempts to balance the state budget.

Granholm’s recommendation returns the Promise Scholarship as a $4,000 tax credit. Students who qualify would have to stay in Michigan for at least a year after graduation.

Representative Steven Lindberg said there are several issues with the suggestion.

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“The problem I have with it is that most people who are going to school aren’t thinking about a tax credit five years down the line; they’re wondering about how they can pay for it now,” said Lindberg. “We’re doing what we’ve done for the past 10 years, putting things off for a future time.”

Lindberg said a big part of the discussion to bring the Promise Scholarship back is finding money to pay for it with a mounting state deficit. According to the Jan. 11 Revenue Estimating Conference, the state deficit for the 2011 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, will be $1.72 billion.

“It’s kind of a fool’s game to be guessing about anything that’s happening in Lansing right now,” Lindberg said. “The cuts are going to be dramatic.”

One question concerning students who had the Promise Scholarship before it was cut is whether the tax credit being considered would benefit them after they graduate. Current high school students who took the MME, the assessment test which determines eligibility for the program, are also wondering whether the tax credit would be awarded to them.

Lindberg said the answer to these questions is still up in the air.

“It will depend on how the legislation gets written. I am not aware of anything that is out there in bill form out there yet,” Lindberg said.

Associated Students of Northern Michigan University President Jason Morgan said that such questions concerning both college students and high school students are very valid. He said some lawmakers have lost sight of the idea behind the Promise.

“It seems people are forgetting what the point of the promise scholarship was. It was to keep people in the state of Michigan, but to also give incentive for students to take the assessment exam, the MME,” Morgan said. “If I was in high school and there was no benefit for me to take the assessment exam, I would only take it if I was forced to.”

While the discussion of the Michigan Promise Scholarship coming back as a tax credit is not yet fully decided, the Student Association of Michigan will be going through with their rally in Lansing on Thursday, March 25 to protest on behalf of the Michigan Promise Scholarship. Morgan said the protest is to bring the Promise Scholarship fully restored, as well as encourage funding for higher education.

“We’re continuing to campaign to bring back the Michigan Promise Scholarship, but not necessarily the way it was. Essentially, we’re okay with the Promise Scholarship being restored as long as it’s still money going directly to students,” Morgan said. “The idea of tax incentives is obviously better than nothing, but it doesn’t in any way address the need students have for the Michigan Promise Scholarship.”

Several students are dissatisfied with the proposal. Junior Graphic Communications major Natasha Nemcek had the Promise Scholarship before it was cut last fall. She said the tax credit was nowhere close to the original scholarship.

“I wasn’t promised to stay in Michigan for another year with that scholarship. I was promised that if I did well on the MEAP and went to college for two years, I was guaranteed that scholarship,” said Nemcek. “It shouldn’t have gotten taken away in the first place. It was called the Promise Scholarship for a reason.”

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