Alma College students could feel a new wave of financial aid woes, as Governor Gretchen Whitmer has cut millions of dollars in financial aid from small colleges through a line item veto. The Michigan Tuition Grant can award students with up to $2,000 per year, which is decided based on financial need.
As retention has been a priority item for the college, this loss of funding could pose a new challenge to students who without this funding, their education may not be possible.
Many Alma students will feel the impact of this loss of funding. “This grant makes an Alma College education possible for many of our highest need students,” said Michelle McNier, Director of Financial Aid. “Without this continued funding, some of these students may not be able to financially afford to make this education a possibility in future years.”
The college as a whole has lost approximately 1.5 million dollars, impacting around 800 Alma College Students. “Students may have to increase their efforts to find external scholarship opportunities and may also need to look at additional loans or payment plan options” said McNier.
President Abernathy issued a statement to students via email on this issue. He gave a brief overview of the situation and explained that the college was working diligently to mediate the funding loss. “Since the notification, the college’s leadership team, along with the Financial Aid and Financial Services Offices, have been working to develop a plan of action with a goal of minimizing the impact on our students” said Abernathy.
This email also assured students that any losses in state dollars for the fall semester would not impact students. “the funds you have already received for the fall term will not be withdrawn from your account” said Abernathy.
Students have expressed their frustrations through social media, citing the Governor’s cuts as an attack to college students statewide, “Placing their budget concerns and their lack of money on college students, 18-22 year old’s, seems irresponsible,” said Elizabeth Flatoff (’21).
There is also frustration considering that many individuals currently in college who were receiving this scholarship and were anticipating these funds to remain available. “I also believe it is highly irresponsible to just pull this aid away from students already in college who depend on it,” said Flatoff.
Whitmer’s line item veto may not be a permanent removal of educational grants, “We will closely follow updates from the capital as the legislature continues to work on budget matters,” said Abernathy.
As this is an issue that can be resolved through legislation and budget negotiation, Alma has been in conversation with state officials to help restore these grants. “The college is actively working in the best interests of our students by reaching out to our elected representatives in support of continuing this funding,” said Abernathy.
Students who are interested in advocating for the restoration of these grants are encouraged to contact their state representatives or senators. “We also encourage students to reach out to their elected representative to share how this decision has impacted them personally,” said McNier.
Included within the email from President Abernathy on this issue, is a template letter for Governor Whitmer as well as members of the legislature. There are also links provided to identify your local legislators.
Those not impacted are also being encouraged to inform their elected officials, “I wish that everyone will fight this, talk to your representative, whether it affects you or not, because I guarantee it affects someone you know,” said Flatoff.