Misuse of Bridge Card

While some students need it, others obtain a bridge card who don’t

Upon arriving at Ferris State three years ago for the beginning of my freshman year, I quickly learned the many differences between Michigan and Illinois.

I was raised for the first 18 years of my life in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and had never lived anywhere else. I knew in my senior year of high school that I wanted to go away to school to venture out on my own and gain some valuable life experiences.

I noticed many differences, both subtle and prevalent, such as pointing out your hometown on your hand (which I cannot partake in given my location out-of-state), the 10 cent refunds for recyclables and the differences in the traffic light system.

It took me about two years of attending Ferris to get word about the Michigan Bridge Card. I was told by a friend that it is available to students who live off campus and is essentially free money for food.

My first thought was, “Why would students need welfare money from the state?” That is in essence what the Bridge Card is, a government run welfare program.

After becoming more familiar with the program and having friends who have utilized this system, I have seen what they are used for, both good and bad. I have friends who do honestly need this assistance because they are independent from their parents and work minimally due to a hefty schedule of classes. With rent and car payments, this program can be beneficial for those struggling to pay bills each month.

I have also seen the underbelly of the program though; students who get plenty of money from their parents, but still have a Bridge Card that they use for steaks or soda that they use to mix with alcohol. This is more common than one thinks, and I don’t think the government should be paying for these types of expenses.

I am very much in favor of welfare programs that help those in need, but it seems all too easy to get around the current system to get a bridge card when it is not necessary. Some lawmakers have recently looked at investigating possible fraud in the system (see Bridge Card story on page 1), which could be an important tool to keep Michigan’s spending in check.

The money saved from not using federal money for students who don’t need it can be spent in better ways and to fund other worthwhile programs.