Sikkema Fighting Scholarship Cuts

May 13, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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LANSING — Students and families are being given the opportunity to let lawmakers know they support keeping current funding for the Michigan Merit Award Scholarship.

The opportunity lies in a series of community roundtable meetings and a new Web site.

Senate majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said he hoped students and parents would visit the Senate’s Merit Award Web site to find out more information about the scholarships and to let other lawmakers know of their support for the program.

Students and parents may access the Web site at www.senate.michigan.gov/gop/merit. In addition, the first Merit Award Scholarship Roundtable was occurred Monday in Royal Oak.

The next one will be at 9:30 a.m next Monday in rooms 125-127 at Grand Rapids Community College’s Caulcims Science Building.

“The Merit Scholarship provides many students and working families with the essential financial aid they need to afford a college education or vocational training after high school,” said Sikkema.

“Students and parents need to know they can count on Republicans to keep the promise we made to them when we created this scholarship. The Merit Scholarship currently is funded and we intend to keep it that way.”

Sikkema said that protecting funding for the Merit Award is the top priority for Senate Republicans, adding that the scholarship has been one of the best investments the state of Michigan has ever made in its future.

Since its creation in 2000, the Merit Award has helped more than 140,000 Michigan students afford a college education or vocational training.

“The $2,500 Merit Award Scholarship will cover nearly two years’ tuition at most of Michigan’s community colleges,” he said. “In these tough economic times, this scholarship can mean the difference between a student going to college or putting his or her educational plans on hold.”

To receive the $2,500 scholarship, students must post a satisfactory score on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test given during their junior year in high school. Scholarship recipients may use the award to cover tuition costs at any of Michigan’s public or private universities or community colleges.

Sikkema added that Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives will oppose Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s proposal to reduce the scholarships to $500 per student from $2,500.

He said the governor’s proposal diverts funding for the Merit Award, which comes from a portion of Michigan’s federal tobacco lawsuit settlement and uses the money to increase other government programs.

“At a time when we are cutting budgets, we cannot afford to increase government at the expense of our college-bound high school students and their hard-working parents,” said Sikkema. “We already have a dedicated funding source for the Merit Awards and we are not going to siphon it off for other lesser-priority programs.”  

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