LANSING (AP) – A plan to increase the state’s college scholarship award to up to $4,000 per student likely will get a vote in the state House by the end of the year.

The House Appropriations Committee advanced the proposal yesterday, despite some concern among Republicans about how the state will pay for the system when it becomes more expensive in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm is lobbying hard for the bill, which supporters say is vital to increasing the number of Michigan’s college graduates and improving the state’s economy. Granholm touted the plan, which would take effect for the high school class of 2007, at a Birmingham high school yesterday.

In Granholm’s election eve speech at the Michigan Union, she used increasing the merit awards as a centerpiece.

The state’s current Merit Award gives high school students who do well on state standardized tests up to $3,000 toward their college bills. The new plan – which already has passed the Senate – increases the total amount available to $4,000 per student.

Students who do well on the state’s standardized tests would get $1,000 for their freshman year of college and another $1,000 for their sophomore year. If they complete two years of college, they would get another $2,000.

Students who don’t do well on the Michigan Merit Exam still would be able to claim the entire $4,000 after completing two years of post-high school education.

A proposed increase

$3,000: The current maximum amount of the Michigan Merit Award.

$4,000: The maximum amount the award will be worth if proposed legislation passes.

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