Granting Students the Chance They Deserve
by Simone Dekryger (B.A. ’22)
For Cornerstone University, a determination to support students means a commitment to making higher education accessible. On Wednesday, Sept. 18, CU representatives Dr. Joe Stowell, university president; Bob Sack, vice president of advancement; and Rocky, the CU Golden Eagle mascot, traveled to Lansing, Mich., to attend the Michigan Tuition Grant Rally.
Representatives from 18 of the Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities (MICU) network's 26 schools attended this year's rally to raise awareness and support for the Michigan Tuition Grant (MTG). Planned around the budget process and the legislative season for the state of Michigan, representatives from attending schools organized information tables, met with politicians and sat in on a committee meeting.
"The Michigan Tuition Grant is a vital part of student financial aid in that it truly helps our students with the affordability of Cornerstone tuition and the students of all independent colleges and universities throughout the state," Sack said.
The MTG, a state budget line item, has provided crucial financial aid that allowed many students to attend college. At Cornerstone, this grant has provided up to $3,000 per year in tuition savings for students who are Michigan residents, financially assisting almost half of the 96% of CU students who receive financial aid.
"Our presence at an event like this is important because it keeps decision-makers in our state aware of our school and what we contribute to the well being of our state in terms of our grads' impact in the workforce and communities," Stowell said. "It is also important to be a team player with MICU, to participate in events that help MICU promote the interests of our schools in the state legislature."
One of the main hopes of the meeting in Lansing was to make the situation personal. Lawmakers spoke directly to representatives from MICU schools, giving them first-hand knowledge of the importance of the MTG and its outcomes. With 79% of traditional undergraduate students and 96% of adult and graduate students being regional to Michigan, lawmakers saw how their support of area students advances the future of Michigan. As of 2018, 10,784 Cornerstone alumni lived in Michigan and 88% of traditional undergraduates were working in the state.
The visit to Lansing was even more relevant in light of Michigan's budget battle between Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican legislature. Earlier this week, Governor Whitmer signed the Michigan state budget, but line-item vetoed over 100 items. One of the things that she vetoed was funding for the Michigan Tuition Grant/Michigan Competitive Scholarship at Michigan private colleges. With so many students impacted, MICU and Cornerstone leadership are monitoring the situation and waiting for further information.
"Clearly the work of MICU to influence legislators to continue this grant is very important to us, and more importantly, to our students," Stowell concluded. "The Michigan Tuition Grant helps ease the burden for college students in need, and we hope this grant can be restored in Lansing so students aren't held back. As the budget battle unfolds, we'll keep all affected students updated on the situation."