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M-PACT: U-M increases financial aid to 2,900 Michigan residents

Related story:
Coleman reveals financial aid plan>


The University will make a college education more accessible and affordable with a new financial aid program that increases grants and reduces loans for more than 2,900 in-state undergraduates on the Ann Arbor campus. U-M will provide $9 million in seed money to jump-start the program, called M-PACT.

M-PACT will increase the need-based grant assistance to $12,200 per year for students at the lowest income level—those from families whose financial circumstances make the students eligible for a full Pell grant. M-PACT aid will top off the University's existing financial aid package with additional grants of $1,500, $1,000 or $500, depending on the student's financial need. In every case, the new aid produces a dollar-for-dollar reduction in loans.

"M-PACT is one more way that the University of Michigan will continue to deliver on its longstanding commitment to accessibility and diversity," President Mary Sue Coleman said Feb. 28 during a speech at the Midwestern Regional Forum of the College Board in Chicago, where she spoke about the responsibility of colleges and universities to ensure that education is affordable. (Read excerpts from her speech below.)

"We are determined to tear down the barrier of cost for Michigan students of every financial circumstance. To do less is to shortchange our state and our society, as well as our students."

For a typical first-year student at the lowest income level, the new program means combined grants and work-study will cover more than 80 percent of the total cost of attendance—not only tuition, but room, board, books and related expenses. Some students also receive merit-based grants, which further reduce their loan amounts. Unlike loans, students do not have to repay grants and work-study assistance.

The program will be open to all income-eligible Michigan resident undergraduates and take effect for the fall 2005 semester.

Coleman said accessibility depends on not only the availability of financial assistance, but knowledge that the aid exists. "We must make it our business to reach out to students and parents, and to the public as well, with the message that a college education is affordable," she said.

Coleman will draw $3 million a year from private gifts to launch and sustain the first three years of M-PACT. Simultaneously she announced that the ongoing The Michigan Difference campaign will begin a focused fund-raising effort to raise a permanent endowment of at least $60 million.

The University has met a commitment to cover the full need of in-state undergraduates for decades, Provost Paul N. Courant said.

"Despite all the budget demands facing the University, we recognize that financial aid must continue to be one of our highest priorities," he said. "We choose to invest our scarce resources in accessibility, and in the lives and futures of Michigan's students."

M-PACT will increase the total grant aid from all sources given to U-M resident undergraduates to more than $55 million a year. Of that total, $33 million is aid flowing directly from the University's own resources, an amount believed to be one of the largest financial aid investments of any public university.

Although the program will bring the greatest amount of assistance to families at the lowest end of the income scale, M-PACT also is designed to support students whose families may earn slightly more than the amount needed to qualify for a Pell grant—typically in the range of $50,000 to $70,000 per year. "We recognize that there are many moderate-income families who still struggle to meet college expenses," Courant said.

Fund raising through The Michigan Difference campaign will help to sustain and grow the program into the future. At the same time, U-M will continue its fund-raising efforts to raise support from alumni and friends of the University for scholarships for both in-state and out-of-state undergraduate students.

"The $60 million for M-PACT is the first stage of what we believe will be an even larger and sustained fund-raising effort for need-based aid for both in-state and out-of-state students in the years ahead," said Richard Rogel, alumnus and co-chair of The Michigan Difference campaign. Rogel and his wife, Susan, gave $22 million to the campaign in 2000 to support scholarships for out-of-state students.

"I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend Michigan," Rogel said. "When I talk with other Michigan alums, they feel the same way. I am confident that as we tell this story, many other alumni will step forward to help," Rogel said.

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