Free College for Michigan?

Georgia may have largely decimated its HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship program, which allowed most reasonably qualified high school students to attend college for free, but in at least one state, legislators are working on a new program to provide really inexpensive college for its students.

According to an Associated Press article in the Detroit Free Press:

Democrats in the Michigan Senate said Wednesday they’re developing a proposal that would allow Michigan high school graduates to get grants of up to roughly $9,500 a year for attending college by ending some business tax credits and other revenue changes.

The grants could be used to pay tuition or associated costs at public universities and community colleges in the state. The money would be raised by closing what Democrats call tax loopholes and ending some business tax credits, collecting sales tax from out-of-state Internet retailers and saving money on state contracts.

That $9,500 would essentially cover the cost of most state colleges.

It’s unclear if the college grant would be limited to students with certain GPAs or SAT scores (as most state scholarship plans are) or to students only below certain income levels (as the HOPE scholarship originally existed).

Those developing the plan say it would allow for free college “without tax increases for Michigan citizens.” Perhaps in some sense, yes, but “ending some business tax credits” does constitute new taxes businesses have to pay. As the article states, the bill is likely to face opposition from Republicans, who outnumber Democrats in the Michigan legislature.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer