In recent years, the American education system has come under increasing fire for the amount of debt it saddles its alumni and alumnae with; especially in relation to the real-world value of having a bachelor’s degree.
Figures from the alternative education organization missionu state that “only 18% of students who start a bachelor’s degree graduate in 4 years, and less than half of those strongly agree that it was worth the cost.”
In other news, residents of the so-called Rust Belt area of the country have long suffered from the decline of many local industries.
Detroit became the poster boy for urban decay – and a favored model for a new breed of urbex photographers – as the state of Michigan felt the effects of the long-term economic downturn.
Today, the University of Michigan, located in the city of Ann Arbor, is doing what it can to help local low-income families affected by both issues.
University president Mark Schlissel has announced a financial aid program that will provide free tuition for resident students whose families earn $65,000 a year or less.
Beginning in January 2018 and known as the Go Blue Guarantee, the program will cover a student’s whole four-year stint at the institution.
Under the terms set out, more than half of families in Michigan would qualify.
As Schlissel explained during the Board of Regents meeting, “I’ve heard from far too many families throughout our state who don’t pursue a UM education because they feel they can’t afford it.
“This innovative financial program is for … every student in Michigan who dreams of a UM education, applies and is admitted.”
The initiative has been costed in the university’s 2017-18 budget, which was approved by regents with a vote of 7-1
Regent Andrea Fischer Newman, who cast the single opposing vote, said there would still be middle class students who find themselves priced out of a University of Michigan education.
However, Regent Mark Bernstein took a different view, calling the budget a moral compass that reflected the university’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
He opined that “this is a transformative moment in the history of the University of Michigan. Our state and our nation is watching us and I could not be more proud.”
With most university education leaving graduates with crippling debt as they enter the workforce, let’s hope the University of Michigan’s pioneering Go Blue Guarantee is a roaring success.
The hope then would be that it inspires similar programs elsewhere, in turn helping students from lower income families nationwide get a leg up.