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Opinion

Michigan, keep your promises!

By Megan Drabek

mdrabek@my.madonna.edu

Since I was a little girl, I was taught that a promise is something to be kept, no matter the circumstances.  As I get older, this does not seem to be the case.

More than 96,000 college students, including myself, received a promise from the state of Michigan when we were seniors in high school. The Michigan Promise Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship granting up to $4,000 to students who have completed two years of post-secondary education or passed a series of tests, is facing the chopping block. 

Surprise, surprise.  The state of Michigan is out of money, and where do they jump to first?  That is right - education.

In June 2009, the state Legislature voted to cut funding for the scholarship, leaving college students and families scrambling for cash.  I am a personal victim of this unexpected, broken promise, and find myself suffering from a combination of anger, frustration, and betrayal. 

During my senior year of high school, I had to take a test in order to be eligible and qualify for this scholarship.  I passed and was granted a total of $4,000 to go toward my college tuition at Madonna University.  I am currently a junior and have already put half of that money toward tuition, books and other expenses. 

As my junior year finally came into play, I learned that I would not receive the $2,000 that was left of my scholarship, promised to me by the state of Michigan. 

I was lucky enough to get at least half of my money; where the other half goes, heck if I know.  I am disgusted just thinking about it. 

I chose to stay in Michigan for college partly because of this scholarship.  We have always been known to have potential and dedication to quality education, but how can Michigan move toward the future by eliminating its main asset, the students?

This scholarship is an important part of my financial aid.  It helps subsidize my tuition costs and is money that I don’t have to pay back.  Without this vital scholarship, many students will just have to increase the amount of loans needed to pay for their education. Great.  Looks like I will be working more double shifts in the future.

It would be sad to cut the scholarship for the future, but do not promise me something and then take it away. A cheap shot; I cannot think of any better way to put it. The state needs to find other ways to cut the budget that do not involve prior commitments to the young people of the state.

There is still hope for students and families who have been up to their ears with fury and rage.  Recently, the state House committee voted to restore the scholarship and adopt new specific taxes to pay for it. The decision on whether the Michigan Promise Scholarship will remain in place will take place Oct. 1.

If Michigan wants to maintain young talent in the state, legislators should either stop making promises they can’t keep, or keep the promises they make.