Forget the Freshman 15 Loans not pizza rule

August 30, 2010
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New college graduates in Michigan are hitting the job market carrying more debt than ever, thanks to dropping state support and skyrocketing tuition rates, according to a recent study from the Michigan League for Human Services.

Michigan’s 15 public universities saw a 9 percent drop in state funding from 2006 to 2010. In approximately the same time period, their tuitions increased by 31 percent.

At the state’s 28 community colleges, funding fell 7 percent between 2002 and 2010 and tuition rates went up by 41 percent.

Meanwhile, financial aid programs have been cut and students are taking out bigger loans. The average loan amount for those receiving bachelor’s degrees in 2008 was $22,000, a debt that is 44 percent higher than the class of 2001.

The study, “Pulling the Plug on Michigan’s Future: Why Draining Resources Hurts Tomorrow’s Workforce,” contends that the state needs higher education to restore prosperity lost with hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

“Evidence across the country clearly demonstrates that the most prosperous states are those with the highest educational attainment,” the report states. “As Michigan seeks to transform itself from a manufacturing-based economy, a highly educated and talented work force is essential.”

The state slashed its financial aid programs by 64 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to the report — from $218 million to $79 million. In addition to reneging on the $4,000 Michigan Promise Scholarship for students who scored well on standardized exams in high school, the state eliminated three need-based programs, saving $12 million but reducing aid to 15,000 low-income students.

Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for slashing higher education budgets 2006-10 and seventh for tuition increases from 2005-06 to 2008-09, according to the report.

“This comes at a time when there’s widespread public recognition that education is the key to prosperity, not only for individuals but for our struggling state as a whole,” MLHS President and CEO Sharon Parks said in a written statement.

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