Colleges worry about broken Promise scholarship

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Capital News Service
LANSING – Recent state cuts in education have left students and universities wondering where they will receive financial help in the future.
The Legislature eliminated the Promise Scholarship last year to help close the state’s $ 2 billion budget gap.
“The state budget is a mess,” said Michael Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.
About 96,000 students expected to use the scholarships to pay for college.  The scholarship provided up to $4,000 for high school graduates for postsecondary education.
Boulus said students and their parents are on their own to make up the hundreds to thousands of dollars that the scholarship would have provided.  Students and parents should be outraged at their legislators, he said.
“It was called a Promise Scholarship for a reason,” Boulus said.  “Since they got rid of it, students now are forced to work two to three jobs and longer hours to earn more money.”
Across the state, students have been voicing their anger and disappointment.
Boulus said many students who are unable to pay their full tuition simply dropped out.
Val Meyers, associate director of financial aid at Michigan State University said students in serious financial need would receive a $500 grant for one semester at a time.
“Students will be short $500 this year,” Meyers said.  “We don’t know what next year will look like.”
Students from Kalamazoo will get some relief despite losing the Promise Scholarship.
The city implemented the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship in 2005 for its public high school graduates.  Students who qualify must go to a public university in Michigan and keep a GPA of at least 2.0.
Mark Delorey, director of financial aid at Western Michigan University, said students who don’t receive the Kalamazoo Promise are in worst shape than those who do.
“It has made a serious impact on the students,” Delorey said.  “Those students who have the Kalamazoo Promise are doing okay without the Promise Scholarship.”
Delorey said the university is not certain whether financial aid applications have increased.  Western hasn’t implemented new aid for affected students, he said.
© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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