While many colleges are finding the funds to expand their financial aid offerings in response to economic woes, state higher education systems have not all been so fortunate. Michigan and New Jersey are both considering cuts to their state scholarship awards, the Michigan Promise and New Jersey STARS programs.
In the face of a $1 billion budget shortfall, Michigan may have to do away with the state's promise scholarship, in addition to making several other tough financial decisions. The Michigan Promise offers residents up to $4,000 per year towards tuition and fees at state colleges and universities. If the proposed budget cut goes through, the class of 2009 will be the last group of high school students to have this award available for college.
When faced with budgetary woes, the state of New Jersey also turned to its state academic scholarship programs, New Jersey STARS and New Jersey STARS II. However, rather than scrap the programs entirely, the legislature has voted to make them more selective. STARS, which pays for tuition and fees at community colleges will now be available to only the top fifteen percent of New Jersey high school graduates, while STARS II, which helps STARS scholars go on to complete a four-year degree at a state college, will only be available to students who maintain a GPA of 3.25 or higher. The amount of funding for STARS II, previously the total cost of tuition and fees, will now be capped at $7,000 per year.>While cuts to college scholarships and grants are discouraging, they are still rare and are happening mainly at a state level, as states struggle to balance budgets in the face of a continuing recession. Scholarship opportunities are still out there, and students who find their planned sources of funding drying up or diminishing due to the recession are encouraged to keep up their scholarship search.