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Granholm's Broken Promise

During Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's final State of the State address last month, she announced her plan to revive the Michigan Promise Scholarship that she had eliminated to meet the budget in 2009. But Granholm doesn't intend to keep the scholarship in its original form. She wants to withhold the $4,000 previously given up front to high school seniors, and instead give it to Michigan college graduates who remain in the state at least a year after graduation.

If the Michigan Senate approves her proposal, it will be the second time that she has failed the students in Michigan. As a high school senior, it will be the second time that she has failed me.Until a few years ago, I was dead-set on attending the University of Michigan, but soon realized that UM, as well as many other Michigan schools, don't provide the aid that the out-of-state universities do. Like thousands of other Michigan seniors, I was banking on receiving such awards as the Promise Scholarship this year, but now I will have to go without it. Which really means, I'll have to go to school out-of-state.

While I understand that Granholm's intentions are good (she wants to keep the talent pool in Michigan), this proposal will severely handicap high school seniors. They won't have access to the money when they need it most. Not only that, but the proposal will penalize college grads who are unable to find a job in Michigan's dwindling economy.

Granholm says she wants students to stay, but she's not giving us a reason to.

Liz Sawyer, a senior at Waterford Kettering High School, is part of the "TIME 11", a group of Detroit area high-school students working with Assignment Detroit.

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  • 1

    Republicans in the Michigan Senate will not vote for funding for the Promise Scholarship. They are the ones who insisted it be cut last year, and the House Democrats ultimately went along with that idea in the end. Governor Granholm fought for the funding - but our lawmakers wouldn't budge.

    There was not much that the Governor can do when the Republicans say "no" to everything. They wouldn't even vote for the credit that she proposed this year. They took it out of the budget.

    Direct your anger where it belongs - at the Michigan Legislature.

  • 2

    This is the most pessimistic thing you will probably ever hear me say about our economy. The Michigan Promise is a promise that never should have been made.

    Michigan can't afford its public schools right now. Even affluent school districts are expecting major cuts this year. Michigan has trouble keeping law enforcement and other state employees on the payroll. If the state can't even afford to maintain the basic services it was created to oversee, it shouldn't try to double as an educational endowment.

    Making the initial promise was a beautiful, well-intentioned notion, but nevertheless a mistake. Making it again would be a bigger one. The budget crisis is going to be even worse this year.

    P.S. I speak as someone who overwhelmingly votes Democrat.

  • 3

    Have you considered the difference between in state and out of state tuition? In general you are talking more then the total scholarship annually. That being said I still don't like cutting educational spending, but I wouldn't cross U of M off of your list because of a minor increase, by percentage, in cost of an undergraduate education.

  • 4

    Good luck in your college search. I hope you have looked at some of the private schools in the state. Although they all have pretty large price tags, you might find that they also offer some great need-based aid packages that you can't find at state schools. I knew kids in college that were paying $5,000/yr b/c they were given so much financial aid (both loans and grant and not all merit based).

    Also, Tim: a lot of other states have well funded state schools so the out-of-state tuition difference might be very competitive even relative to our in-state rate. I wouldn't suggest to students to cross them off a list just because they are not paying in-state tuition.

    • 4.1

      True, but after reviewing similar caliber schools, U of M is ranked #4 in the country by US News and Worlds Report, you will find there is a 20k price jump. For example UC Berkley (#1 undergrad school in the US News and World Reports rankings) tuition more then triples for out of state students.UCLA at # 2 is also over 30k a year vs 8k a year instate. University of Virgina (#3) is also a 3 fold increase to over 30k a year out of state. University of North Carolina (#5) is over a four fold increase for out of state residents. The same can be said for Georgia Tech 7.5k instate vs 25.7K out out of state. These numbers also don't reflect cost of living expenses, and are merely tuition bills for these institutions.

      Debt is a factor in education, and it always will be. I choose to go to a less prestigious private school in Michigan because it was much more affordable than U of M, and I was planning on attending medical school after undergraduate. Four thousand dollars is a substantial sum of money, but it is rarely make or break when you are considering four years of high education. The cost of an undergraduate education is roughly $96,000 by U of M's figures (44k for four years of tution, for comparison to previous numbers above), and the loss of the promise scholarship is roughly a five percent increase in your total education cost. It is still a hell of a deal to Michigan residents.

  • 5

    It's unfortunate that the governor and Legislature won't consider proposals to right-size our state and address the nagging problems that are driving the budget crisis.

    Here's what they can to do save money without reducing performance, according to

    - Consolidate administration of Michigan's 500+ school districts by reducing per pupil state funding for districts that fail to share services
    - Allow an unlimited number of charter schools to stimulate competition, especially in under-performing districts
    - Rationalize the number of colleges & universites to a number the state can support long-term
    - Increase funding to remaining community colleges & universites to achieve "Top Ten" status

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