Addressing the National College Access Network Conference (NCAN) being held in Detroit, State Board of Education President John Austin renewed his call to increase state support for higher education and student financial aid.
“Michigan’s economy and our people are depending on us to put higher education back within reach for working families,” said Austin. “Michigan’s business, higher education, education, labor and civic leaders joined me in support of the policy prescriptions outlined in our report, “Reaching for Opportunity” which includes making Michigan a top ten state again in student financial aid. The future of our state depends on it and I call on the legislature to act before it’s too late.”
The state legislature has failed to act on non-controversial legislation to improve the skills of high school counselors so they can help more students navigate a postsecondary pathway toward a career. Legislators have done nothing to improve Michigan’s dismal support for student financial aid, state funding for Michigan colleges and universities or enacted solutions to address the crushing debt burdens too many Michigan citizens face as a result of seeking higher education and a path to a better life.
While state funding for higher education continues to languish behind the rest of the nation, Michigan’s public university tuition has more than doubled since 2003 when adjusted for inflation, making it the sixth highest in the country. “We’ve outlined the path to increasing higher education attainment to 60% by 2025 but it requires a Legislature that is willing to invest in higher education and financial aid for those that need it,” said Austin.
Austin, author of the 2004 Cherry Commission report that drove a number of education reforms to increase the share of Michigan’s population with higher education degrees and credentials, recently convened state leaders to update Michigan’s roadmap to prosperity, producing the widely heralded "Reaching for Opportunity" report released last December. (www.MiTalentGoal2025.org) The launch of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) was inspired by the Cherry Commission report.
For the first time in its 21 year history, the National College Access Network is hosting its annual conference http://www.collegeaccess.org/2016Conference in Michigan, which attracted more than 1100 participants, a record for this event.