Bumstead Promise Zones legislation makes its way to governor’s desk

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate in a rare Friday session voted to concur with the House of Representatives to approve legislation sponsored by state Sen. Jon Bumstead that would provide flexibility and access to student scholarships for Michigan’s Promise Zones.

“These reforms would allow Promise Zone Authorities to make decisions that will benefit the individual needs of students within that zone,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “These programs are a great way to help students pursue an education; however, they do not currently meet the unique needs of students in different areas of the state.”

The Michigan Promise Zone Authority Act provides for scholarships to students who live and graduate from a high school located within the boundaries of a Promise Zone. The scholarships allow for students to pursue higher education while lessening their financial burden.

Promise Zones have three funding sources: the federal Pell Grant or other need-based aid, private contributions, and revenues from the state tax capture mechanism. Michigan statute currently allows for 15 communities to have Promise Zones.

Currently, the Michigan Promise Zone Authority Act covers the cost of “qualified educational expenses” for students. Under the current definition, qualified educational expenses cover costs on top of tuition for expenses of books, supplies and equipment required for courses.

Senate Bill 1052 would modify what is considered a “qualified educational expense” and would make the cost of books, supplies and other equipment optional expenses that a Promise Zone Authority can cover if they choose to.

“These reforms would put more money in the hands of Muskegon and Newaygo County students seeking tuition scholarships and address the diverse needs of students from different parts of the state,” Bumstead said.

The legislation will now go to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for final consideration.

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