Private tuition grant needed, backers say

LANSING, Mich. - Students who rely on a state tuition grant to help them attend private Michigan colleges have asked lawmakers to keep the program intact, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has proposed combining the Tuition Grant program — which offers needy students up to $2,100 per year to attend an independent college — with five other scholarship programs, the Free Press reported. That move could lower the per-student grant to $1,000, the article said.

In testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, the program's backers warned that some private colleges rely heavily on the tuition subsidies, according to the Free Press, and said that reducing or eliminating the program would primarily affect underserved and minority students.

Former students told legislators that the grant money changed their lives, while college officials said that scholarship aid earmarked for nursing programs helps address the state's nursing shortage, the Free Press reported.

"I can see some schools that probably will not survive without this program or a program that is very similar to it," said former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Battle Creek, according to the report.

Detroit Free Press, "Group: Students would lose aid under changes," March 17, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Tuition hikes at Michigan universities demonstrate need for reform," Dec. 15, 2005