States reconsider scholarships

BOULDER, Colo. — A weak economy has led many states besides Michigan to cut back on merit-based college scholarship programs, even though states overall spent 5.6 percent more on all college grants last year, according to a report by Education Week. Some states have raised eligibility requirements and others are capping assistance, the report said.

As tuition rises and tax revenue falls, states will have to move away from broad programs to more targeted assistance, Paul E. Lingenfelter, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers in Boulder, Colo., told Education Week.

Too many programs help college students who would attend even without assistance, he said, and others give students an incentive to take easier classes in order to remain eligible.

Michigan lawmakers did not renew funding last year for the Michigan Promise Scholarship, which would have provided $140 million in grants to about 35,000 students, Education Week reported.

"Everyone is saying this is a terrible thing, but there wasn't the will or the money," Val Meyers, the associate director of the office of financial aid at Michigan State University, told Education Week.

Nevada may not renew its merit-based scholarship program after this year; West Virginia and New Jersey upped eligibility and cut awards; and Florida switched to a flat payout rather than percent-of-tuition model, Education Week reported.

Education Week, "Economy Forces States to Scale Back Scholarship Programs," July 27, 2010 (Subscription required)

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "15 Specific Ideas to Move Michigan Forward," June 7, 2010