LANSING, Mich. — Ryan Fewins-Bliss, Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) executive director, provided testimony during the Feb. 24 meeting of the Michigan Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Universities and Community Colleges.

“Through the American Rescue Plan Act and our state’s unexpected budget surplus, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lower barriers to college access for all of Michigan’s residents and build a stronger workforce to meet the needs of tomorrow’s economy,” said Fewins-Bliss. “Investing these funds into the very families that were most affected by the pandemic seems like the most appropriate use. Education is part of our economic recovery.”

As part of his testimony, Fewins-Bliss presented the four following appropriation recommendations:

  1. Expand the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP):MCAN recommends expanding access and increasing funding to TIP, a national model in supporting low-income students in higher education.
  2. Create a COVID Class Scholarship: MCAN recommends adoption of the “COVID Class” grants which provide high school graduates from 2020, 2021 and 2022 with an annual grant of up to $5,000 for students enrolled in a four-year institution for up to four years or $2,500 to students enrolled in a two-year institution for up to two years.
  3. Create the Comeback to Complete Grant:MCAN recommends creating the Comeback to Complete Grant for those with no degree who hold 90 or more credits and who have not been enrolled in any college for 24 or more months. The scholarship would offer up to $5,000 for students enrolled in a four-year institution for up to four years.
  4. Create a new data infrastructure: MCAN recommends that state funding be put to use in creating a cohesive data infrastructure that connects the state’s departmental data systems. We recommend connecting Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Treasury, Center for Educational Performance and Information, Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and Department of Technology, Management and Budget to formally allow for data to be shared between the agencies and publicly when aggregated.

Read MCAN's full recommendations →

MCAN is grateful to Chair Kimberly LaSata (R-Coloma), Majority Vice Chair Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth), Minority Vice Chair Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and the subcommittee for inviting MCAN’s insight and recommendations.

The subcommittee meeting and Fewins-Bliss’ full testimony can be viewed below (Ryan's testimony begins around the 1:06 mark, but we encourage you to watch the full session), and a copy of the remarks prepared for delivery are available here.