Student financial aid programs in several states may soon fall victim to sweeping budget cuts necessitated by the recession. Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and California are all considering proposals to reduce or eliminate some state student aid programs, including popular grants and scholarships.
Ohio and Florida are both making slight changes to rules in existing aid programs, resulting in less aid for some students, but mostly leaving financial aid intact. Florida is capping their Bright Futures scholarship so it no longer covers all of students' tuition or tuition increases, while Ohio is changing rules in their Ohio College Opportunity Grant to focus aid towards tuition and fees at public schools.
California and Michigan, however, are making far more sweeping cuts. California has proposed eliminating CalGrants, a popular state grant program, for incoming college freshmen and cutting CalGrants for current college students. Michigan may eliminate the Michigan Promise scholarship and make sweeping cuts to several other state financial aid programs, including work-study. Students in both these states could find themselves suddenly thousands of dollars short on college financial aid.
While federal stimulus money has mitigated some of the damage in many states, in Michigan it has also played a large role in the proposed cuts to financial aid, according to The Detroit News. Since a provision in the stimulus legislation prevents states from drastically reducing funding to higher education institutions, Michigan may be forced to turn to cutting state grant and scholarship programs to make up some of their budget deficit.
While some state aid and loan forgiveness programs are being reduced or eliminated, financial aid is still available. Many college are actually increasing their budgets for university scholarships, and private foundations are still offering scholarship aid, as well. Federal student financial aid has also seen some increases in the last two years. Money is still out there if you know where to look, and a great place to start is doing a free college scholarship search.