New State Budget Breaks Promise to Students
Michigan’s college students are directly impacted by the final budget bills signed last week by Gov. Jennifer Granholm for fiscal year 2010. Promise grants worth up to $4,000 per student were eliminated and other financial aid was reduced. Base operating support for universities was also reduced by 3.2 percent, which is a $1.5 million decrease for NMU.
The state allocated some restricted one-time dollars from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that temporarily provides 2.8 percent for tuition mitigation and renovation, repairs or modernization of facilities, resulting in a net overall decrease of 0.4 percent for universities this fiscal year.
“This is consistent with what we anticipated when we passed Northern's budget, which includes cuts and reallocations," said NMU President Les Wong. “The governor has also been clear about the use of executive order reductions, should revenue collections continue to decline. For example, on Tuesday, she asked state agencies to prepare for a 20 percent reduction in state support for 2011.
“However, this year we remain extremely disappointed that the Promise made to students has been broken. Not only does it add more undue hardship to students and their families in a tough economy, it also pushes the problem to NMU to solve when the semester is nearly completed. We are working on a strategy to help students this semester and next and we hope to have that done before we begin the billing process. We want our NMU students and families to know that we have been working hard to push the legislature to restore Promise grant funding in the upcoming supplemental bill.”
Total spending for higher education is approximately $1.6 billion, which includes $1.5 billion in general funds and $68 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. The budget reduces funding for state competitive scholarships by $17.9 million and totally eliminates nursing scholarships, the Michigan Work-Study Program, the Part-Time Independent Student Program and the Michigan Education Opportunity Grants.
The governor noted that the $84.5 million appropriated by the legislature for student financial aid is a reduction of $135 million—more than 61 percent—from the current year. The budget signed may have averted a second government shutdown, but it is “not the budget we need,” said Granholm in a press release. She added, “I am particularly disappointed that the bill includes no funding for the Michigan Promise scholarships, and I strongly encourage the legislature to get to work on finding the resources to keep this commitment to our students. We must keep the promise."