01/12/2012 02:24 pm ET

Michigan College Grants Up To $9,500 Proposed By Senate Democrats

The state of Michigan could one day pay for its students' college educations. Sound like fantasy? Not if a group of state legislators have their way.

Democrats in the Michigan Senate told the Associated Press Wednesday that they are creating a plan to give each of the state's high school graduates grants -- about $9,500 yearly -- to pay tuition and costs at Michigan's public universities and community colleges.

Their proposal for funding has not been clearly laid out, but Michigan Radio reports that the Democrats have several plans, including closing tax loopholes, ending tax credits and collecting sales tax from out-of-state retailers.

The college grant proposal is part of an effort to reinvest in public education after the state cut public secondary education funding, despite rising tuition costs.

Joining a nationwide push for student loan reform from the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy U-M members protested their rising tuition costs at a December Board of Regents meeting.

And University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman recently appealed to President Barack Obama, writing, "we absolutely must find ways to provide a college education at a cost that is sustainable."

According to Senator Gretchen Whitmer, one of the Democrats behind the new proposal, an affordable education for Michigan students would also make the state more hospitable to businesses.

"We've got to do something bold to say Michigan believes in education and this is a great place to come and locate your business because we've got the work force you need," she told the Associated Press.

As of Wednesday, Republicans hadn't seen the proposal, but a bill would likely face tough opposition before passing the GOP-controlled state legislature.

So it may be a while before college grants make their way into the hands of Michigan's knowledge-hungry youth. And even if they do, a total of less than $40,000 for four years of schooling might not cut it. The Daily recently estimated costs for students at public colleges and universities would reach $80,000 by 2034.