Michigans’ for-profit colleges target low income students, fail to provide graduates high-quality outcomes

New report shows many for-profit colleges use deceptive practices to recruit students in order to gain access to federal aid

For-profit colleges in Michigan are overpriced, under-regulated and target students who have low incomes, according to a new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy. The report, For-profit colleges in Michigan: Path forward or dead end?, shows that most for-profit colleges in the state—there were 77 of them in 2018—cost more money than traditional public schools and don’t provide opportunities or degree value that aligns with that high price tag. The schools target students with low incomes, Black and Latinx students and veterans largely because those students are more likely to receive federal aid like Pell grants.

“We see predatory behavior when it comes to the way these for-profit institutions advertise. They’re aggressively recruiting folks earning low wages, nontraditional students trying to raise a family, our nation’s veterans, and Black and Latinx students. In fact, nearly three-quarters of students in for-profit schools in the United States had an income of $24,000 or less in 2016. Meanwhile, the students are graduating with massive debt and lower employment rates than their counterparts at traditional public and nonprofit private schools,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

All told, Black students are overrepresented in for-profit schools when compared to the overall population of potential Black students in the state. In 2018, on average 30.6% of the student body at a Michigan for-profit school was Black. This percentage of Black enrollment was at least 20 points greater than that in other

types of institutions in the state. Systemic inequities in postsecondary education by race and targeted, aggressive marketing strategies likely compound, creating overrepresentation of Black students enrolled in for-profit institutions in the state.

Eighty-three percent of graduates from for-profit colleges in the U.S. took out student loans and graduated with an average of $39,000 in debt. That’s 41% higher than graduates from other types of four-year colleges. What’s more, 30% of students at for-profit colleges in Michigan defaulted on their federal student loans, compared with just 4% of students at public colleges. 


“By definition, for-profit colleges aim to make money for investors. So what incentive do they have to keep tuition and other costs down? They’re not only shortchanging students, they’re exploiting them in order to benefit from federal aid like Pell Grants.The influx of students receiving federal aid means taxpayer money is flowing right into these schools and helping them profit. These for-profit schools prey on students who are in need, promising a way forward to the ‘American Dream,’ but they’re not delivering on that promise,” Gilda Z. Jacobs said.

For-profit college recruiters have used misleading claims about cost, time commitment and job placement in order to attract students. This, along with other deceptive practices, has led to several for-profit colleges and their parent companies being prosecuted for consumer protection violations and other protection violations. Attorney General Dana Nessel has signed Michigan on to several multi-state lawsuits against for-profit educational companies that defrauded students.

The League recommends a variety of solutions that state and federal policymakers can adopt, including requiring institutions to disclose all federal funding, encouraging high school counseling offices to provide materials on how to weigh costs and benefits when choosing a college, and restoring student borrower protections that were enacted during the Obama administration and eliminated by the Trump administration. 

The higher education needs of all Michiganders, especially students of color and those with lower incomes, continues to be a focus of the League’s policy work. A report released in May 2020, Expanding the dream: Helping Michigan reach racial equity in Bachelor’s degree completion, found that Michigan ranks third-worst in the nation for the number of bachelor degrees earned by Black students. Another recent report looked at COVID-19’s impact on college students and their basic needs.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

2020’s virtual #TheShift Summit takes place Saturday

Register Here! #TheShift Summit

Hosted by the Grand Rapids Area Black Business (GRABB).

This one-day experience dedicated to empowering Black entrepreneurs and communities, #TheShift Summit has gone virtual this year with the theme, Progressively Black. This annual gathering connects, engages and informs Black entrepreneurs, creatives small business owners, professionals and stakeholders about opportunities, resources and programs in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that will foster to economic empowerment and equity.

#TheShift Summit attendees will enjoy a day filled with panel discussions, workshops and networking with entrepreneurs, influencers, doers, creatives and other social, public and private leaders.

Featured speaker Lynn Smith is an entrepreneur and the creator of Buy The Block, one of only Black-owned crowd-investing platform that is helping Black communities build wealth while determining the direction of development in their communities.

Lynn has invested in real estate since she was 21, and experienced firsthand how difficult it can be for small investors to get financing. She also saw how the North Miami neighborhood where she grew up was radically altered by development, without any input from residents. Those experiences led her to found Buy The Block.

Smith is motivated by the power that crowd-investing has to engage people and give them a sense of agency. “It’s really helps to get the community involved and show them they can be part of an action that’s being taken in their community and get the benefits and rewards,” she says.

Learn More Here – Buy The Block

Featured speaker, Andre M. Perry, is a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, a scholar-in-residence at American University, and a columnist for the Hechinger Report. He is the author of the new book Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities, which is currently available wherever books are sold.

A nationally known and respected commentator on race, structural inequality, and education, Perry is a regular contributor to MSNBC and has been published by The New York Times, The Nation, The Washington Post, TheRoot.com and CNN.com. Perry has also made appearances on CNN, PBS, National Public Radio, NBC, and ABC. His research focuses on race and structural inequality, education, and economic inclusion. Perry’s recent scholarship at Brookings has analyzed Black-majority cities and institutions in America, focusing on valuable assets worthy of increased investment.

His research has spotlighted the struggles of Black businesses—including artists and art institutions, restaurants, and barbershops and beauty salons—as they await federal relief from COVID-19’s economic impact.

Learn More Here – Know Your Price



Additional COVID-19 food assistance extended through November

Nov. 6, 2020 Press Release from MDHHS

Additional COVID-19 food assistance for 350,000 Michigan families in response to COVID-19 emergency extended through November 

Approximately 350,000 Michigan families will continue to have access to additional food assistance benefits during the month of November as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today.

Michigan previously approved the additional food assistance for March through June – and now that is being extended for the month of November with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

“MDHHS remains committed to helping families who continue to struggle to put food on the table as a result of the pandemic,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Providing nutritious food is vitally important during these difficult times just as protecting residents from the virus is.”

Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card by Nov. 30, with payments beginning for some households on Nov. 21. Additional benefits will be loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance that is provided earlier in the month.

Nearly 1.5 million people in Michigan receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the state’s Food Assistance Program 

Households eligible for Food Assistance Program benefits will receive additional benefits in November to bring all current SNAP cases to the maximum monthly allowance for that group size. This change only applies to customers not currently receiving the maximum benefit amount. The 350,000 households that receive increased benefits represent more than 50 percent of the more than 682,000 Michigan households that received food assistance in September. The remaining households already receive the maximum benefit.

The table below shows the maximum allowable benefit for SNAP customers based on their respective household size: 

One Person Two PersonsThree PersonsFour PersonsFive PersonsSix PersonsSeven Persons Eight Persons 
$204$374$535$680$807$969$1,071$1,224

The federal government is providing additional funding to states for food assistance under House Resolution 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits. People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card by going online to  www.michigan.gov/MIBridges a consumer service representative toll-free at 888-678-8914. They can ask questions about the additional benefits by calling or emailing their caseworker.

Customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Spanish and Arabic service is available. If you are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing or speech-impaired, call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.

Information around the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at  Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.  

COVID-19 Testing at Garfield Park

New Neighborhood Testing Site Begins Offering COVID-19 Testing in Grand Rapids

LANSING, MICH. A new Neighborhood Testing Site in Grand Rapids opens today, bringing the total number of community sites offering COVID-19 testing to 21. The Michigan Department of the Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is working with trusted community partners including churches, community colleges and nonprofit organizations to launch the sites.  

The site, at Garfield Park Gym, 2111 Madison Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, will offer testing Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

“Neighborhood testing sites have proven to be a valuable resource for communities across the state to ensure free testing is available to all Michiganders,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy of health at MDHHS. “Since these sites were opened at the end of August, more than 16,000 Michiganders have been tested at one of the Neighborhood Testing Sites. Locations were chosen in part to help address racial and ethnic disparities that existed prior to the pandemic and were exacerbated by the virus.” 

“We are pleased to collaborate with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Kent County Health Department to bring COVID-19 testing to our Garfield Park neighborhood,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “Providing free health screening to our most vulnerable residents is critical as we all work together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  And this is another example of how we are working with partners to reduce health disparities in our community.”

The new sites join 20 other sites in Albion, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Ecorse, Flint, Graying, Lansing, Niles, Roseville, Saginaw and Wayne. Language translation is being provided at all sites, as well as assistance for the deaf and hard of hearing.

“As we continue to encourage the people of Kent County to get tested, we are grateful to have this additional resource in our community,” said Dr. Adam London, administrative health officer with the Kent County Health Department. “Ensuring access to quality testing is a key part of our strategy to identify cases and limit COVID-19’s ability to spread.” 

Testing sites are offering saliva tests, which are less invasive than nasal swabs and may make the testing process more tolerable for some people.  Appointments are strongly encouraged and can be made either by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136 and selecting “1,” or online. Walk-ins will be taken as space allows, but pre-registration is strongly advised. Online registration is available at Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest

Test results can be obtained via phone, email or by logging into the results portal.  

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.    

Last farmers market of the season Saturday Nov. 7

11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at MLK Jr. Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE 49506

Last chance to visit the Southeast Area Farmers Market is Saturday Nov. 7. Have you tried the wares of Chef Boi Boi Seasoning or Shea Buttercups by TahLee? They and other vendors will be on hand to serve you.

If you have Double Up Food Bucks left, now is a good time to spend them! Our market warmly welcomes SNAP, EBT, WIC and many other assistance and coupon programs. 

Decades of state revenue sharing cuts have harmed communities, impeded racial equity

New report shows state funding for local governments has declined by up to one-third over 22 years, forcing budget cuts, diminished services and bad policies

LANSING—As local governments seek to address the COVID-19 crisis and address calls to reevaluate local spending and its impact on racial equity, a new report, Building Equitable Communities: More Funding Needed for Local Governments, looks at the role that revenue sharing declines are playing in these decisions. 

The research from the Michigan League for Public Policy shows that local revenue sharing payments—state funding that’s distributed to local governments—have declined 35.4% for cities, villages and townships and 25.4% for counties between 1997 and 2019. In addition to the report, related fact sheets offer an overview of the decline in state revenue sharing and a timeline of important policy decisions that have affected local government funding.

“I have served on the Huntington Woods City Commission and in the Michigan Legislature, so I have seen both sides of the revenue sharing equation and know how vital a fair deal from the state is to our local governments,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Local government spending touches our daily lives just as much as state spending, from the local health departments making important decisions right now, the emergency services we depend on in a crisis, the roads we drive on, the parks our kids play in and more, and for the past two decades, our state government’s commitment to our counties, cities, villages and townships has dwindled. COVID-19 has amplified the importance of our local governments and their funding needs, but equitable revenue sharing should be a part of every single state budget.”

The report reveals that local governments have been getting hit on both sides as far as their budget funding goes. In addition to state revenue sharing declines, property tax collections have also diminished. When adjusted for inflation, property tax collections in 2019 were 8.7% below collections in 2017 and only 11% above the trough in property tax collections brought on by the 2008-2009 foreclosure crisis. In 2019, real Michigan property tax collections were on par with collections in 2004. 

These trends in property tax collections are the product of two intertwined constitutional limitations: the Headlee Amendment and Proposal A. The passage of Proposal A had some unintended consequences when combined with the Headlee Amendment, and the report explores those policy changes and their impact in greater detail.

Increasing local revenues is a racial justice issue. To achieve the vision of racial equity, economic prosperity, and social justice, the people, organizations, and governments that support those goals need resources. With more flexible spending power, local units of government can target resources to programs and services as needed.

“Racial equity is an important concern in every policy decision, as they have both intended and unintended consequences, and revenue sharing is no different,” Jacobs said. “The continued fight against police brutality toward Black and Brown people has also raised important questions about local government spending, and with more resources from the state in revenue sharing, greater investments can be made in the areas that promote racial equity and economic security for all. And as state lawmakers tackle a variety of criminal justice reforms, including revisiting court fines and fees, they must also acknowledge that revenue sharing declines have pushed local governments to rely more on court fines and fees.”

The League’s analysis points out that local units of government are seeking to recoup declining revenues in increasingly inequitable and unpopular ways, including a growing reliance on fine and fee collection to pay for city services. The white supremacist system on which modern policing is built and longstanding racially biased policing in Michigan have created a system where Black and Brown people in Michigan are systematically targeted by police. As such, a heavy reliance on fines and fees is disproportionately affecting Black and Brown communities.

In addition, the movement to defund police is pushing for the reinvestment of revenues from policing into racially equitable systems that target and preempt the root causes of crime. To do this, local units of government are going to need funding to reinvigorate opportunities in communities of color to reduce income and wealth inequality. Funding a completely new vision of public safety will require injections of money from the state to help fund the mental health services, youth programs and social safety net that will achieve that vision.

The League’s report outlines the following recommendations to address local governments’ funding needs, improving racial equity in the process:

  • Significantly increasing statutory revenue sharing to counties and cities, villages and townships to at least match what is called for under the statutory formula from Public Act 532 of 1998;
  • Creating new formulas for the distribution of statutory revenue sharing to send more resources to communities with low housing wealth;
  • Expanding the Homestead Property Tax Credit; and
  • Authorizing more tax options for local units of government, including motor vehicle taxes and registration fees, and alcohol, tobacco and cannabis taxes, and taxes on entertainment and amusement.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Only 2 more farmers’ market days: Oct. 24 & Nov. 7

11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at MLK Jr. Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE 49506

This Saturday at the Southeast Area Farmers Market:
Urban Core Collective is providing voter information!

Stop by the Southeast Area Farmers Market Saturday Oct. 24 for organic, fresh, local produce from Groundswell Farm, tasty cottage kitchen goods, and handcrafted personal care items and crafts. If you have Double Up Food Bucks left, now is a good time to spend them! (Our market warmly welcomes SNAP, EBT, WIC and many other assistance and coupon programs.