Higher Taxes vs. Free Tuition For Michigan Students

By: Tiffany Teasley Email
By: Tiffany Teasley Email

College students are having to dig deeper in their pockets to pay for school.

"We need all the help we can get to pay for college, college is getting more expensive," said Eastern Michigan University Junior Ariana Beemer.

And that's why Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith (D) Salem introduced legislation Monday that would foot the bill for Michigan's college bound students with a reimbursable tax credit that would repay tuition and fees.

"It's available for any Michigan resident who graduated from a Michigan high school, who has not yet attained a Bachelor's Degree -- this is a dedicated source of revenue," Smith said.

Which is currently missing from the Michigan Promise, Smith says.

"There's nothing about the program, except statute that says that that's where that money has to be used," Smith says.

But she says this bill, named Michigan's Future, would mirror the Kalamazoo Promise and offer more stability for students.

"We expect this to pay us back in the state of Michigan, we will have a more highly skilled and educated work force," Smith said.

But, the educational investment comes with the cost of a 1.15 percent income tax increase, but Smith isn't ruling out other sources of funding.

"I certainly am open to other avenues of supporting the program," Smith said.

And homeowners say they're willing to pay a modest tax increase to invest in Michigan's future workforce.

"If it benefits the children and the students that's okay as long as it's not a 50 percent increase, if it's a small increase I would be very happy to pay it," said home owner Michael Graves.

Students like Beemer say she's doing her part so the state needs to do their part.

"We are the people who are going to be running this country in 20 or 30 years, if they want us to do a good job they've got to help us out in any way that they can," Beemer said.

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