State Reps. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) and Scott VanSingel (R-Grant) offered testimony in the House Education Committee today on House Bills 6172 and 6171, respectively, legislation to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on students seeking state funding for higher education. These bills would make necessary adjustments to the Michigan Competitive Scholarship (MCS) and Michigan Tuition Grant (MTG), funding based on academic merit and financial need.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a very different educational landscape, with serious implications for students applying for financial aid. As a first generation college graduate, I am particularly worried that these changes will have a bigger impact on low-income and underrepresented students—students who already face an uphill battle making college a reality,” said Anthony. “As a state, we must do everything in our power to quickly adapt to these challenging conditions so the future leaders of our state are not punished for circumstances out of their control. Passing these bipartisan bills would further show our commitment as a state to helping all Michiganders achieve their educational and professional goals, no matter their income or background.”
Currently, the Michigan Department of Treasury determines a student’s eligibility for the MCS using both their ACT or SAT scores along with their GPA. School closures in the spring of 2020 to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus led to many students being left unable to complete their standardized tests on time, or even at all. Anthony’s HB 6172 would allow the Dept. of Treasury to utilize scholastic achievement instead of standardized test scores when determining a student’s eligibility for the MCS, while extending eligibility from 10 years to 11 specifically for students enrolled in the 2020 spring semester that are also enrolled for the 2020-2021 academic year.
“The COVID crisis has impacted almost every area of our lives. Students who are enrolled in college, or planning on enrolling have also faced serious challenges in obtaining their education,” said VanSingel, whose HB 6171 would allow undergraduate students enrolled for the 2020 spring term and the 2020-2021 academic year two extra semesters of MTG eligibility, for a total of up to 12 semesters. “Our bipartisan plan ensures students do not lose eligibility for financial aid because of the pandemic, encouraging them to continue to move forward and continue pursuing their educational goals.”
This bipartisan package builds on executive action taken in recent years to affirm Michigan’s commitment to increasing access to higher education and skilled trades training, including Gov. Whitmer’s goal of 60 percent college attainment by 2030 and the implementation of programs such as MI Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners.
The House Education Committee is expected to vote on House Bills 6171 and 6172 in the coming weeks, before continuing through the committee process and reaching the full House for a vote.