There is an affordability crisis in higher education, and states are actively seeking ways to help students attend and pay for college. One approach in Michigan: a long-standing state program that provides three types of scholarships. For recipients, it's a helpful state program that eases the financial burden of college.
For budget experts, however, it's a curious case of how federal welfare money has been redirected since the 1996 welfare reform law created a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Publicly available data show that Michigan spends the greatest chunk of its welfare money on out-of-wedlock pregnancy prevention, about 33 percent of the $700 million it receives from federal government each year. What does reducing unmarried pregnancy have to do with higher education?
Turns out, just under $100 million of that federal welfare money goes toward college scholarships for Michigan students. Not just low-income students. Half of the scholarship money is available to middle and upper-middle class families. And yet, Michigan spends just a little more — $167 million in state and federal funds— on traditional welfare checks for poor families.
In an excerpt from Krissy Clark's podcast, The Uncertain Hour, we take a trip to Adrian College in Southeastern Michigan to hear from students who — unbeknownst to them — are on welfare.
How does your state spend its welfare dollars? Find out with Marketplace's database, Your State on Welfare.