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Michigan Tuition Grant: What You Can Do

Aerial photo of campus plaza with clocktower

On Sept. 30, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued 147 line-item vetoes totaling nearly one billion dollars in spending. Among the vetoes was the Michigan Tuition Grant/Michigan Competitive Scholarship for Michigan private colleges.

Spring Arbor University has nearly 450 students who will be impacted in some way by the governor’s decision to cut this funding from the budget. It seems the governor is using this funding as a bargaining chip to have state legislature propose a budget with more funding for her initiatives. The decision is not yet final, so we encourage you to join us in contacting the governor’s office to ask for the funding to be reinstated at the same level it was in her original budget recommendations.

The State of Michigan offers several need-based grants for students seeking a degree or certificate at a Michigan college or university. The three largest programs are the Michigan Competitive Scholarship (MCS), the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) and the Michigan Tuition Grant (MTG). In 2017-2018, grants were awarded to approximately 60,000 Michigan students. This award is worth up to $2,400 per year for eligible students.

Those who receive the Michigan Tuition Grant make up approximately 30 percent of all students receiving need-based financial aid from the State of Michigan. The funding went to over 6,000 first-generation college students and more than 200 veterans, and 5,646 recipients were above the age of 25.

What you can do:

Please consider aiding us in advocating for our students. We will keep you updated as this situation develops. Students with questions can contact the Office of Financial Aid by emailing financialaid@arbor.edu or calling 517.750.2900.

A drafted letter you can send to the Michigan state legislature:

Dear senator/representative, 

My name is [name] and I am an alumnus of Spring Arbor University, a private university in Spring Arbor, Michigan, enrolling approximately 3,400 students. I am writing you to inform you of the unfortunate decision Governor Whitmer made in striking the Michigan Tuition Grant from the state budget. 

The Tuition Grant for the 2019-2020 academic year was intended to provide $2,400 to full-time students. Financial aid packages are awarded in the spring, and students count on the distribution of funds in order to pay for tuition, fees, room and board and other expenses for college. Switching the grant allocation mid-year would financially burden and harm thousands of students in Michigan. This impacts 450 Spring Arbor University students. Without the help of the Tuition Grant, these students will lose a collective $1.15 million in grant money that they will most likely have to cover through increased student loans. 

A bachelor’s degree from a public university in Michigan costs the state $28,534 in appropriations dollars. An associate degree from a community college costs the state $39,643 in appropriations dollars. Comparatively, Michigan Tuition Grant students cost the state an average of $9,600 for a bachelor’s degree (four years of a $2,400 tuition grant) — a third of the price of a public university education and less than a quarter of the price of a community college education. The dollars invested in the MTG provide by far the greatest return on investment

If the MTG is eliminated:

  • About 450 Spring Arbor University students will face a substantial increase in their college costs. For some of them, this will result in their dropping out, and many of them will never finish college as a result.
  • 16,983 students in Michigan will lose grant dollars they are counting on to pay for college tuition. This represents approximately 30 percent of all students receiving need-based financial aid from the State of Michigan.
  • There will be a significant impact on the number of college graduates who live in Michigan. As you know, baccalaureate degree attainment and economic strength of a state possess a nearly one-to-one statistical correlation. Undermining degree attainment is tantamount to undermining economic strength of a state.
  • Students who can choose to stay in college will take on additional debt. An additional $2,400 in loans each year for four years of college is equivalent to over $20,000 of interest and principal payments over a 30-year student loan. This is money that will be spent paying loans and not spent in the economy.

PLEASE do whatever you can to repair this problem. I understand that this is likely the result of political strategy and a bargaining chip to have state legislature propose a budget with more funding for Governor Whitmer’s initiatives, but this will directly impact thousands of Michigan families.

Sincerely,
[Name
]