State Might Break Its Promise to Students

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"I'm the oldest of six kids and my younger brothers and sisters are in private education, so money's tight," DJ McKerr said.

Which means eighteen-year-old McKerr's parents won't be able to help him pay for college.

"I've been mowing lawns the past couple of years saving up," he said.

On top of his budding business, this Lansing Catholic grad was counting on a promise from the state.

"Based on your scores on the merit scholarship, you get grants," McKerr said. "For me, I got $1,000 per year."

But, a Senate Subcommittee voted Tuesday to cut the Michigan Promise Scholarship and other need-based financial aid programs to help chip away at $1 billion budget deficit.

"The Michigan Promise Grant affects about 100,000 students," Michael Boulus said "It will have a dramatic impact."

Boulus is the executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.

"It's going to increase debt load," he said. "It's going to force universities to think about how they're going to respond. We're going to have to rethink how we package financial aid to our neediest students."

The Michigan House already passed its version of a higher education budget which did not include as many cuts to financial aid, but that was before, lawmakers said, they knew just how bad the budget shortfall for next year would be.

"We probably won't be able to keep financial aid at the level we passed it earlier this year, but I hope it's not cut as dramatically as the Senate's version," said Rep. Joan Bauer, the chair of the House higher education appropriations committee.

For now, students like McKerr are left waiting, wondering if the state will keep it's word.

"[If they do cut this grant,] I'm going to have to mow a lot more lawns, I guess, to make up for it," McKerr said.

This is not a done-deal yet. The Senate still has to pass the sub committee's version. Then, the Senate and the House would have to come to an agreement. Rep. Bauer hopes that can happen before July 4th, so families and students can plan accordingly.

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