LANSING, Mich. — Legislation aimed at making more scholarship money available to Michigan students who were raised in foster care was approved by the Senate Committee on Finance Tuesday afternoon.

The Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund is used to provide scholarships to young men and women in foster care who wish to enroll at a Michigan college or university. The state of Michigan works with private individuals, community organizations, and businesses to facilitate contributions for the fund. The money is then paid directly to the Michigan college or university that the student is attending to assist with things like tuition, room, board, books and supplies.

“An estimated 13,000 children are in the Michigan foster care system,” said state Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy. “We are seeing a growing number of young adults remain in the system, most of whom simply do not have the resources available to attend college.”

Section 435 of the Income Tax Act allows an individual to designate on his or her annual state income tax return that any specified portion of the refund be credited to any of the funds listed in that section. Current law, however, limits the number of income tax checkoffs allowed in a single year to 10.

Senate Bills 196 and 197 amend the law to include the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund as the 11th authorized fund on the form. The bills would also designate the Department of Treasury as the sole administrator of the fund and require that any contributed funds be dispersed to the designated institution.

Knollenberg says these bills are necessary because everyone who is willing to learn should get the opportunity to do so.

“Many of these individuals have led very difficult lives and I wholeheartedly believe that someone who wants to learn deserves the necessary tools to do so,” he said. “I commend both donors and our state’s universities for working together to raise nearly $600,000 since 2012 and giving so many people the chance to make their dreams a reality.”

The bills will now go before the full Senate for further consideration.

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