Higher education budget increases coming in budget negotiations

In addition to positive budget proposals for PreK-12 schools, state budget proposals for community colleges and universities are strong as well for 2024-25.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget plan, that came out the beginning of February, calls for a 2.5% increase in funding for the state’s 15 public universities and 28 community colleges.

Both the House and Senate are also recommending 2.5% increases in both universities operations funding (HB 5505 / SB 752) and community colleges operations funding (HB 5504 / SB 753).

One of the biggest differences in all three budget recommendations is in the Michigan Achievement Scholarship.

The Michigan Achievement Scholarship provides up to $2,750 a year for a student to attend a community college for up to three years. The scholarship provides up to $4,000 per year for independent nonprofit colleges and up to $5,500 a year for public universities. Students must enroll full-time.

Governor Whitmer is proposing a $30 million funding boost for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, in part to ensure that all recent high school graduates can attend community college tuition-free.

The Governor’s plan would also let some students qualify for an additional $1,000 to offset costs for food, housing, transportation, and child care.

An alternative House plan does not include Whitmer’s tuition guarantee but would increase state spending on the scholarship program by $36 million — $6 million more than the governor is proposing.

The House plan would not only expand student eligibility to part time students for the state scholarship, but would allow students to use their funds to cover the full cost of attendance, including books, housing, food, transportation expenses, a personal computer, and childcare.

A separate Senate plan does not include any funding increase for the scholarship, but includes a community college guarantee that is slightly different than the version Whitmer proposed.

The Senate amended boilerplate language for the scholarship to increase awards for community college students. For students paying in-district tuition, all tuition and fees would be covered, for students who live in a college district but are attending a different community college, all tuition and fees are capped at the in-district tuition of the student’s “home” college, and for students who do not live in a community college district, the cap is $1,000.

None of these competing plans are final. Whitmer, the House and the Senate will be negotiating a budget agreement over the next several weeks after final state revenue targets are set for 2024-25.  MEA has long supported efforts to make higher education more financially accessible, including Gov. Whitmer’s plan for free community college for high school graduates.

Higher Ed Legislation Newsroom Uncategorized