Promise Funding in Budget Limbo

promiseStudents may feel a real pinch in their tuition if funding for the Michigan Promise is not approved.

Currently, the state legislature is working on the annual budget for fiscal year 2009-2010; battling with a $2.8 billion deficit with a proposed cut of the Michigan Promise programs at $140 million.

The awards are based on results from the Michigan Merit Exam, formerly known as MEAP. Students attending college in Michigan have received as much as $4,000 from the various programs annually.

Of the estimated 96,000 students receiving benefits from the program, 1,825 attended Ferris last year, a total of $1,829,500 was disbursed.

Ferris’ Financial Aid web site states that 83 percent of Ferris students receive some form of financial aid.

Director of Financial Aid at Ferris State University, Rob Wirt, said the Promise funds were not applied to student accounts. “They were only awarded so students could see them as part of their financial aid award,” said Wirt.

Wirt said that the Promise funds are not part of any disbursement that a student will receive and students won’t have to repay any of those funds back from their disbursement if the budget item is not funded by the state Legislature.

John Yonkers, a senior in public administration and legal studies, has already used his three years of eligibility for the Promise programs, but recognizes the importance of this situation.

“If we want to revoke a promise for a future generation we might as well ask for repayment from those who have already benefitted from the program,” said Yonkers.

“If you want to renig on a promise, it is not a promise anymore,” he added.

The state House supported the initial measure for the full $140 million, but cuts by the Senate eliminated the funding for the full amount and left it at $100 to allow for potential continued action by the House.

Rep. Darwin Booher and Sen. Michelle McManus did not return Torch inquiries as of press time.

Wirt said that if the funding is not approved, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will be available to help students locate additional financial aid funds.

A completed budget is expected by Oct. 1 for approval by Governor Granholm.