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Talent & education


Private colleges, public aid

Michigan has spent more than $1 billion in federal anti-poverty money on college scholarships and grants since 2007, much of it going to middle- or higher-income students attending pricier private schools. Because costs there are higher than at public universities – with tuition at some exceeding $40,000 – many more affluent families qualified for the aid. These 10 schools had the widest gap between the percent of in-state students getting aid (generally high) and the percent of poor students on campus (often far lower) during the 2013-14 school year.

Note: Students getting welfare aid is the percent of in-state students who received a Michigan Competitive Scholarship or a Michigan Tuition Grant. Median family income is for all families that received federal financial aid, including student loans. Poor students on campus are the percent of all students awarded a Pell Grant, given to students with the lowest family incomes, usually below $20,000.

Slideshow: Private colleges, public aid

  • calvin-college

    Calvin College

    Students getting welfare Median family income Poor students on campus
    66.8% $85,652 22.9%
  • detroit-mercy

    University of Detroit Mercy

    Students getting welfare Median family income Poor students on campus
    67.0% $69,870 28.3%

4 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. William Plumpe

    It would be interesting to know what type of income tests the private colleges use to screen applicants for financial aid. Since they appear to be almost exclusively private religious oriented schools they may be able to provide student aid as they wish to whom they wish regardless of proven economic need. They may even show a bias in favor of certain students to receive financial aid who really don’t need it because of the student’s religious affiliation or alumni contacts. And because they accept little or no public money their records are probably not open to public inspection. Could this be a case of public money being used to advance religious education? This is something that needs to be checked out.

    1. V Art

      I don’t know a lot about how these programs work. I do know that in Michigan public dollars cannot go to religious based schools. While charter schools can receive state & federal aid, parochial schools may not. We are seeing more instances of bias against religious institutions than benefits going to them.

  2. oscar

    Why are more exclusive colleges getting state aid for students. I thought state aid was for low income students

    1. duane


      How many [adult] students do you know that have the knowledge and skills to earn anything more that a ‘poverty’ level income?

      My best guess is that if an adult only has a high school diploma and they are living on their own that they would meet the low income criteria. Do you know many recent high school grads that are earning above the low income threshold? Or do you believe that a child should always live in their parents ‘basement’?

      I believe we have a law that defines adulthood [18, right to vote] as the legal point that a child becomes responsible for their lives, their education, their living.

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