BY THOMAS MAKLED, Copy Editor
Michigan Senate Democrats announced a planned grant program to help pay undergraduate tuition for residents of the state this January.
If passed, the Michigan 2020 plan would make all Michigan high school graduates eligible for up to $9,575 per year to attend any public university or community college in the state, according to the Michigan Senate Democrats website. To remain eligible, students would have to maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. Those with yearly tuition greater than the amount of the grant would be required to cover the difference.
For example, according to collegedata.com, University of Michigan Ann-Arbor students would fall $683 short on tuition if they received a full grant, and would still require about another $13,000 for a year’s worth of room and board and other fees. Meanwhile, UM-Dearborn students would only need to come up with about $900 if given a full grant, and students of many other state universities and community colleges would find their tuition fully covered. The full grant amount is based on Michigan’s current median tuition level, $9,575.
According to the Senate Democrats website, the plan, which would cost $1.8 billion, would be “funded by reducing the outdated and ineffective business tax loopholes and credits that are put into law by special interests lobbyists.” A fact sheet on the site states that Michigan “gives up over $35 billion annually on tax expenditures,” and that the plan would be funded by cutting just a 10% portion out of that expenditure.
Funding Michigan 2020 would not require raising any taxes, one point Senate Democrats hope will help it go the distance. The plan requires the approval of the Michigan Legislature as well as Governor Rick Snyder’s signature before passage. The governor has a history of supporting waste reduction in taxing infrastructure, another reason the Senate Democrats hope their plan will succeed.
In a further attempt to draw public support and attention to the plan, Senate Democrats have launched the #mi2020 Scholarship Competition. The competition encourages Michigan high school seniors to “create a short video that explains why we need to enact the Michigan 2020 Plan,” according to its website. Entrants must be planning to attend a Michigan university or community college next year. The winner of the competition will receive a $10,000 scholarship to cover their first year’s tuition.
Those who cannot enter the competition and still want to help spread the word can send a letter to elected officials and share the plan on Facebook, Twitter and through email.