President Pappas testifies in Lansing to keep tuition grant

Davenport University President Richard J. Pappas told members of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee that the impact of losing the Michigan Tuition Grant would be immediate and devastating. His testimony came in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s call to phase out the grant in her budget proposal.

Pappas’ testimony was part of an effort by members of the Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities (MICU) to show lawmakers the importance of the Michigan Tuition Grant to students throughout the state.

“Davenport has a mission to ensure that a quality education is accessible and affordable to students in Michigan,” Pappas told the committee. “More than 15,000 students across the state are receiving the Michigan Tuition Grant and 1,100 of them are at Davenport. This investment is critical to their ability to earn a degree and advance in their careers.”

Pappas was joined by 49-year-old Dena Kuhns-Zandarski who is scheduled to graduate from Davenport with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in April 2025. She was able to explain to the committee members the difference the Michigan Tuition Grant has made to her.

“I graduated with an associate’s degree in 1996 and had every intention of continuing my education, but life had other plans,” Kuhns-Zandarski explained. “While I was always able to find work, the lack of a bachelor’s degree kept me from being able to apply for many jobs. The Michigan Tuition grant has awarded me $12,000 to use toward my tuition at Davenport. I truly believe that this grant makes it possible for people like me, who might not be eligible for other scholarships or grants, to earn a degree.”

The Michigan Tuition Grant has been helping students since 1966, and is the only grant program in the state without an age limitation.

The opportunity to speak to the appropriations committee was part of MICU’s Advocacy Day. In addition to presidents and students, the committee room was full of mascots from the colleges and universities, which added a bit of color to the proceedings.

The state legislature is considering Gov. Whitmer’s entire $80,7 billion budget plan for fiscal year 2025, which begins Oct. 1.


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