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U-M extends Go Blue Guarantee free tuition program to Flint, Dearborn campuses

Detroit Free Press logo Detroit Free Press 6/17/2021 David Jesse, Detroit Free Press
a sign on the side of a road: The First Street Residence Hall on the campus of the University of Michigan-Flint. © University of Michigan - Flint., University of Michigan - Flint. The First Street Residence Hall on the campus of the University of Michigan-Flint.

The University of Michigan will extend its Go Blue Guarantee program to its Flint and Dearborn campuses, giving free tuition to in-state students whose families make under $65,000 a year if they have a high GPA in high school.

The program has been operating at U-M's Ann Arbor campus since 2017. The university will cover the gap between traditional financial aid like Pell Grants and the cost of tuition for in-state families who meet the financial criteria. U-M's Board of Regents unanimously approved the move at its Thursday board meeting.

The move comes after years of activism by One University, a coalition of students, faculty and community members that has pushed since 2018 to invest more funding in the Dearborn and Flint campuses.

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Dearborn and Flint students will be eligible only if they have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

"Students spent all morning celebrating this victory, only to find out there's a *3.5* GPA requirement — which is not present in Ann Arbor. This is a classist, racist requirement that implies only 'hard working' students deserve an education. I'm devastated," Amytess Girgis, an activist for more funding for Dearborn and Flint who graduated from the Ann Arbor campus in May,  tweeted as the expansion was announced. Girgis will be a 2021 Rhodes Scholar in November.

"The complaint here is that the whole point of Flint and Dearborn campuses is to make a U-M education accessible to people. Many apply for a range of reasons, but also a lot of those students may not have gotten into (U-M Ann Arbor). If the point is as they claim, which is to recruit low-income and students of color to these campuses, the requirement is absurd.

"If we wanted to make a U-M Flint degree accessible to a low-income student in Flint Public Schools, for example — which is what they are posturing this is — then that is absolutely not the way to do it."

The One University campaign also tweeted out its disappointment with the GPA requirement.

"A devastating barrier put in front of the Go Blue Guarantee being extended to Flint and Dearborn, announced by @DrMarkSchlissel at the #UMichRegents meeting. Equity for low-income students is NOT conditional!"

U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the Ann Arbor campus has a de facto GPA requirement. 

"The 3.5 GPA is already being met on the Ann Arbor through the admission process, so that GPA keeps the requirement consistent across all three campuses," he told the Free Press.

U-M Regent Jordan Acker praised the expansion, saying it was a "game changer" for the Dearborn and Flint campuses.

Regent Sarah Hubbard also said the budget and expansion will help students and families across the state. "This budget moves the university in the right direction with prioirtization of support for students and families from Michigan, funded in part by a modest increase in tuition," she said.

The Dearborn and Flint campuses have a larger share of their students classified as low-income than Ann Arbor. About 15% of Ann Arbor students are eligible for the federal Pell Grant, which is offered to low-income students and used to track percentages of low-income students on a school's campus, compared with 42% of students at Dearborn campus and 39% at Flint.

More: University of Michigan to offer free tuition to some in-state students

Since the program began, more than 1,600 students on the Ann Arbor campus have had the full cost of tuition and fees covered by a combination of traditional financial aid and the program, according to university records.

Contact David Jesse: 313-222-8851 or djesse@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter: @reporterdavidj. Subscribe to the Detroit Free Press.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: U-M extends Go Blue Guarantee free tuition program to Flint, Dearborn campuses

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