How Michigan families get welfare for private colleges


Albion College is one of the most expensive private schools in Michigan and many of its students come from families of means.

On the surface, it would appear the liberal arts students at Albion would have little in common with those living in the poor neighborhood that surrounds the school, where a third of residents live in poverty.

Yet they do, and most students are likely unaware of this stunning fact: A greater percentage of Albion students are receiving federal welfare money than those in the neighborhood surrounding the campus.

At Albion, 63% of in-state students receive a Michigan Competitive Scholarship or a Michigan Tuition Grant, college aid the students themselves might be surprised to learn is funded almost entirely with federal anti-poverty money. This at a college in which the median family income of students receiving financial aid is nearly $76,000.

That rate is also more than double the percentage of Albion students who were awarded a Pell Grant in the 2013-14 school year, Those grants go to U.S. college students coming from the poorest of family backgrounds.

The use of federal welfare money to help more financially comfortable Michigan students attend pricey private schools is hardly confined to Albion.

Two-thirds of Michigan students at Calvin College benefit from welfare funds, even though the median family income of Calvin students getting financial aid is $85,000. Similar numbers emerge at Alma, Kettering, Hope, Olivet and other expensive schools.

In all, Michigan spends about $100 million annually in welfare money from Washington on college aid, including millions that benefit families earning more than $100,000. This in a state in which only 18 of every 100 families living in poverty is receiving cash assistance.

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