Dollar Dilemma for Scholarship Programs

HOPE, "Bright Futures" and "Promise" are the names of three state-based college scholarship programs intended to expand higher education opportunities. Each effort, along with those in other states, may fall victim (at least in part) to a series of fiscal challenges.

It’s a combination of lower funding sources, higher tuition costs and expanding enrollments that are threatening the programs. The "solutions" vary, each with its own set of negative consequences. has the interesting story, including this excerpt.

One possibility is to reduce the amount of the scholarship. Rather than guaranteeing to cover 100 percent of ever-increasing tuition rates, those states now offer students awards at a flat rate. However, it makes college less affordable for many families and disproportionately affects those with lower incomes.

The other option is to reduce the number of students who are eligible for the scholarships. That, too, has negative side effects. Upping academic standards steers awards toward students who are likely to attend college anyway. And it steers money away from lower-income students, minorities and those who are the first in their families to attend college.

Indiana, by the way, established the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program in 1990 to help students from low- and moderate-income families. In recent years, Gov. Daniels proposed privatizing the Hoosier Lottery and using the proceeds to assist all Hoosier students with at least a portion of their public education expenses. A Department of Justice opinion on such privatization scuttled that idea.

Barbs Fly as House Democrats Pass Budget

The elephants and donkeys drew their usual (party) lines in the sand before the House vote this morning on SS 1001, the budget bill.  The result: Everyone looked petty.  In the end, no surprise, the measure passed 52-48 – all on the back of Democrat votes. The parties were on such opposite sides it was hard to believe they were still in the same room.  
Among the verbal gems:
House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis: “I found out before I came in here that this budget we’re about to vote on (the House Democrats’ proposal) spends $200 million more in the first year than the bill that was defeated at the end of April … and that was at the end of session with a gun to our head.”
Representative Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City:  “Don’t let anyone tell you that we’re not reigning in our budget on this side of the aisle.  We ought to be proud of this budget; I am. But I know – it’s my guess – there will be no votes coming from over there (the Republicans).  (That’s because) we have different priorities. We believe in helping the poor, public education and giving people a chance to earn a living.”
Representative Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale: “(The Democrats) seem to think it’s unthinkable for government to flatline spending.  Anyone here not tightened their own belts the past few months? … Good news is we’re going home today, saving taxpayers’ money (on the special session).  The bad news is the Democrats are going to pass a budget that will lead to tax increases.”
One of the most unique visits to the microphone came thanks to Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary), who led off his remarks touting that several media outlets in Fort Wayne, Lafayette, South Bend and elsewhere have come out in support of the House Democrats budget proposal.  Smith thought this was significant. Really? 
Sifting through all the banter, the great divide centers on the Republicans’ view that the Democrats are being free-wheeling with spending, while the Democrats contend that the Republicans and the governor are trying to “decimate school funding” with their approach to the state budget.
“I don’t want to get into the governor’s alleged 2% increase in education spending,” remarked Pelath. “It counted all sorts of things that have never been counted before” in terms of federal sources.  “It’s unsettling, gimmicky and didn’t meet his own criteria for what a budget should look like.”
Meanwhile, Espich predicts the state “could have another budget crisis four or five months from now – and that  budget crisis in November or January will be worse than the one we have today.”
Agreeing with that assessment, Rep. Randy Borror (R-Fort Wayne) warned that if the Legislature ultimately passes a one-year budget, “We will become full-time legislators.” 
Borror went on to list many of the digs Democrats made about Gov. Daniels during the proceedings and then closed with, “ At least you can’t accuse him of being stupid.  He knows how to balance a budget. Maybe you should have listened to him a little more.”
All in all, another proud day for the Legislature.  Look for Act II from the Senate.