Thursday, December 2, 2021

Over 100,000 additional students qualify for Michigan Tuition Incentive Program

February 25, 2021
Coins photographed on April 7, 2020.
Coins photographed on April 7, 2020. —
Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

Michigan’s Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) provides financial assistance to college students eligible for Medicaid once they finish high school. 24,000 students enroll in TIP every year but there are more than 100,000 more students who are not enrolled, but could be eligible for it. 

According to a report from The Century Foundation and The Institute for College Access & Success, over 77,000 recent high school graduates are enrolled in college and eligible for Medicaid. Another 26,000 already have Medicaid and would benefit from TIP if they were enrolled in college. 

In order for a student to be eligible for TIP, they must be on Medicaid for at least 24 consecutive months from the time they are nine years old until they graduate high school (before 20 years old), fill out an application for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and be enrolled at least as a part-time student. Additional requirements including being a U.S. citizen, a Michigan resident and not being in default on a federal student loan. 

At Michigan State University, 24.1% of students in the incoming class of 2019 received a federal pell grant, according to the Office of Planning and Budgets Fall 2019 Student Overview. Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need, according to the Federal Student Aid website.

Additionally, 75.1% are Michigan residents and 91.2% enrolled as full time students.

Many of these same students would be eligible for the Tuition Incentive Program.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan Legislature adjusted the requirements so that more students are eligible for TIP, expanding the time that students could use TIP from six years to 10. This allows students who may want to take time off or fewer classes to do so without losing their funding. 

The legislature also suspended the need for students to fill out a separate application for TIP if they filled out a FAFSA and qualified. Some high school students missed the opportunity to apply for TIP because they didn’t know they were eligible. 

TIP has two phases for students: Phase 1 provides tuition to students who are enrolled in a degree/certificate-granting program. However, TIP will not cover over 24 credits per semester. Phase 2 provides tuition to students who earn a certificate, associate degree or 56 transferable credits. Students who are eligible for TIP can receive it for now up to 10 years but must begin using it within four years of graduating from high school. 

Aid for college students has become a controversial issue, especially during the pandemic. While President Joe Biden has suspended student loan payments until Sept. 30, college students who are dependents, claimed by a parent or legal guardian on tax forms, are not eligible for the government stimulus checks. 

In a report sent on Feb. 17, senior advisor of The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) Catherine Brown included 10 additional recommendations like extending the amount of credits students can take per year from 24 to 30. This expands TIP benefits to four-year universities and allows students to use TIP benefits regardless of how long ago they graduated high school. 

“As our state faces twin crises on college affordability and shrinking enrollments of low-income students, Michigan policymakers can act now to expand access to all those who qualify, a move that will have a big impact for many students who thought the pandemic ended their educational dreams,” Brown said in the press release.

This article is part of our Spring Housing Guide issue. Read the full issue here.

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