Today, Michigan’s legislative leaders and Governor Whitmer acted to protect financial aid for thousands of low-income students in Michigan during this uncertain time. We commend these leaders for taking this crucial action to extend access to the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP), which provides free tuition at community college and $500 per semester towards a B.A. for qualifying low-income students in Michigan.
TIP is available to all Michigan children who received Medicaid for two years between age 9 and the end of high school. Each year, approximately 20,000 graduating students qualify for this scholarship aid. Thousands of students, however, lose access to this support because unlike the other major state scholarships, TIP requires students to certify themselves as eligible for the program by August 31st of their senior year in high school or lose access to this aid for life. Today, the legislature and Governor Whitmer extended the deadline for this year’s graduating seniors by one year, ensuring that our current crisis does not close off future opportunity to TIP eligible students.
“At a time of great uncertainty, this show of bi-partisan support will help keep college within reach for Michigan’s most vulnerable students,” said Catherine Brown, Senior Advisor for Michigan with TICAS. “We hope that this deadline can be extended permanently to ensure that all future TIP eligible students have more time to understand the aid available to them before they lose it.”
“Barriers to financial aid for students most in need in Michigan make access to college much more difficult in a typical year. This year, with a global pandemic causing a dramatic end to the K-12 school year and a yet unknown structure for higher education in the fall, these barriers would have a devastating effect on low income students, students of color and first-generation college-going students. The governor in her executive order with support and leadership from the legislature have now told students that we will support their college dreams with much more flexibility this year. Postsecondary education will be a key piece to Michigan’s economic recovery now and in the future,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, Executive Director of the Michigan College Access Network.
The largest state scholarship program, TIP provides approximately $60 million a year in tuition support to 24,000 vulnerable students annually. This year, only 50 percent eligible students have completed the TIP application. The rest were at risk of forgoing this aid if the legislature had not acted. Michigan is facing high unemployment and dire budget projections as a result of COVID-19. This policy change helps keep the door open to college for thousands of needy students and will help assist the state’s economic recovery by enabling more students to upgrade their skills.
The legislature acted in response to a call to action from a large coalition of business, philanthropy and education groups in May.
The Institute for College Access & Success is a trusted source of research, design, and advocacy for student-centered public policies that promote affordability, accountability, and equity in higher education. For more information see www.ticas.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.