Michigan High School Seniors Lose Scholarship Money For the past three years, Michigan gave high school seniors at least $4,000 to help them pay for college or job training under a program called the Michigan Promise. But because of a budget crisis, the state eliminated the scholarship at the end of 2009 even though Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm opposed the move. More than 96,000 students lost the scholarship this year.
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Michigan High School Seniors Lose Scholarship Money

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Michigan High School Seniors Lose Scholarship Money

Michigan High School Seniors Lose Scholarship Money

Michigan High School Seniors Lose Scholarship Money

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For the past three years, Michigan gave high school seniors at least $4,000 to help them pay for college or job training under a program called the Michigan Promise. But because of a budget crisis, the state eliminated the scholarship at the end of 2009 even though Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm opposed the move. More than 96,000 students lost the scholarship this year.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta has the story.

RICK PLUTA: Granholm says that was a big mistake as Michigan tries to double the number of college graduates living here and create a highly educated workforce that will attract employers.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM: I think it's really, really important for us to provide access to higher education as we try to double the number of our college graduates. So I think the Michigan Promise is one important aspect of that.

PLUTA: Granholm says the Promise was also critical to the success of local Promise Zones. The state allowed 10 high-poverty communities to take a portion of local property taxes to help pay even more of a student's tuition.

GRANHOLM: The foundation of those Promise zones were Promise scholarships, and so the challenge is if we don't have a Promise scholarship, those Promise zones become much more challenging for those local communities to send their kids to school.

PLUTA: She says the Promise zones encouraged at-risk teens to finish high school. Other states that have turned to publicly funded scholarships are also running into budget woes. Vincent Badolato is a higher education expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures. He says while states want to make higher education more affordable, it's easier to cut spending on colleges than nearly anywhere else in a state's budget. He says many states are shifting the burden to schools and demanding better results if they want taxpayers' money.

VINCENT BADOLATO: I think it's starting to have states think about - and more seriously think about performance funding, providing a certain amount of money for institutions if they meet certain benchmarks for (unintelligible) students.

PLUTA: Michigan State University junior Brett Tesla(ph) says the Promise scholarship helped him and a lot of other students focus on trying to graduate in four years. Tesla is one of 96,000 students who lost the Michigan Promise scholarship this year. He says he'll take out another loan because he doesn't have time to take on a second job, and his parents can't help with any more tuition costs.

BRETT TESLA: I think I should be all right, but I don't know. It just seems like kind of a lose-lose situation.

PLUTA: For NPR News, I'm Rick Pluta in Lansing, Michigan.

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