Students rally to keep Michigan Promise Scholarships

East Lansing, MI – Michigan State University students rallied Wednesday to maintain Michigan Promise Scholarships. The program is on the chopping block as the state legislature attempts to close a $1.8 billion deficit in the 2010 budget.

Audio: The Michigan Promise provides up to $4,000 for high school graduates who qualify through the Michigan Merit Exam. MSU Sophomore Laura Clinger says if she looses that scholarship money, she'll have to take out more loans to finish school. "I've already taken loans out, my parents have taken out loans, and it's going to be really difficult to enter the workforce with all of this debt. I'll be like 23 years old with $30,000 of debt," she says.

Clinger's father, Michael Clinger, says cutting the scholarship money will make it even more difficult for families to pay for college. "The family's share of public education keeps getting bigger and the state's share of public education keeps getting smaller. So, we think to take away the minimal help that's being offered is really irresponsible," he says.

The Republican-led state Senate has voted to completely wipe out funding for the Michigan Promise starting October first. Lieutenant Governor John Cherry, who spoke at the rally, says at least some of the scholarship money could be restored during budget negotiations. He's urging the legislature to keep the program, even if it means scaling back the number of students who qualify or cutting the amount of money they get.