Granholm: College grants will remain

Granholm: College grants will remain
Thursday, June 18, 2009

Granholm: College grants will remain

Mark Hornbeck / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

East Lansing -- Scholarships of up to $4,000 for nearly 100,000 Michigan college students will not be
scrapped, Gov. Jennifer Granholm vowed Wednesday.

The governor was asked about a Senate subcommittee move earlier this week to eliminate the Michigan Promise Grants to save $140 million for the cash-starved budget.

"No, that will not stand," the governor told reporters after addressing an urban revitalization conference at Michigan State University.

Scuttling the grants flies in the face of the administration's goal to double the number of college graduates in a few years, Granholm said.

"We cannot eliminate the scholarships if we are to reconfigure our state economy and get to our goal," she said.

"Families have budgeted (for the grants) already."

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education voted along partisan lines Tuesday to scratch the Michigan Promise Scholarship to help close a $1.7 billion deficit in the budget year that starts Oct. 1. Senate Republicans said they regretted the cut, but added that the recession-rocked state can no longer afford the scholarships.

Liz Boyd, spokeswoman for Granholm, said the governor would not rule out a reduction in funding for the grants.

"The 2010 budget is a work in progress and some tough decisions will have to be made," she said.

Students who meet standards on each of the state high school exams receive $1,000 at the start of their freshman year of college and the same amount at the beginning of their sophomore year. Once they successfully complete two years of college or trade school, they get another $2,000.

Students who take the tests but don't score well enough to get the money up front can get the entire $4,000 after two years -- as long as they maintain a 2.5 grade-point average.

Michael Boulus, executive director of the Presidents' Council State Universities of Michigan, commended Granholm for backing the scholarship program.

"I'm very pleased she's standing up for the Michigan Promise," Boulus said. "It is a promise the governor and the Legislature made to Michigan families."

Financing for the scholarships comes from a lawsuit settlement with tobacco companies. Boulus noted that a 2002 constitutional amendment that would have shifted the money to other purposes was defeated by a 2-1 margin.

"This is a very popular program, and the voters have spoken," he said. (313) 222-2470

Posted on Thursday, June 18, 2009 (Archive on Thursday, June 25, 2009)
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