With the current state deficit around the $1.8 billion mark, some of the funding suggested to be cut is $140 million for the Michigan Merit award, Michigan Competitive Scholarship and Michigan Promise scholarship.
It’s ironic, to say the least, that as we celebrate the success of the school that Woodbridge and Helen Ferris built, we should be concerned with how students are meant to afford their education. As a two term governor, one term senator and lifelong statesmen, Woodbridge Ferris would likely abhor the idea that students from his institute and more importantly the entire state could be forced to cut short their education due to the lack of appropriation of certain funds labeled as a “promise” to the students of the state of Michigan.
We see emblazoned upon the University’s seal “Opportunity-Industry”, corner stones of a Ferris education, but without the budget to support the recipients of that education, the flame of the dream that Mr. and Mrs. Ferris shared diminishes to barely an ember.
Perhaps even more tragic is the potential for long term damage in not re-newing the “Michigan” scholarships. In this economy, the matter of a couple hundred dollars per semester may be the difference between a diploma and an early departure. Those students who are not able to object to the latter will find themselves qualified but without credentials and searching for a job to maintain good standing on other loans or financial aid that they have accrued. Worse still is that the already soured job market would be impacted by a high influx of young people needing work and not finding it. People who need work but can’t find it resort to social programs, again, funded by state and federal tax dollars.
So, who would the absence of payment for the “Michigan” awards really impact? Allowing $140 million to better the work on the $1.8 billion budget problem or disgracing a generation to an unfinished education and financial decrepitude already expected to shoulder the burden of failed financial policy from preceding generations.
Woodbridge Ferris believed 125 years ago that education was meant for all. He and his wife built their school so that students would have the opportunity to learn and industry to benefit. Scratching payment on Michigan’s “promise” to her students is forcing the torchbearers of the Ferris legacy to extinguish their flames.