LANSING — The Michigan legislature and Governor Whitmer have launch a $30 million program to cover tuition costs for adults seeking associate’s degrees or a skills certificates at their community college.
The program makes 4.1 million Michiganders who are 25-year-old and older and do not have a college degree eligible to earn a tuition-free associate’s degree or skills certificate. The program builds on Whitmer’s previous pandemic-era initiative to provide tuition-free degrees and certificates to frontline workers, and covers costs for those ineligible for that program.
The program also offers skills scholarships to help cover the cost of tuition through more than 70 private training schools with 120 programs that offer certificates in “high-demand” careers in industries such as manufacturing, construction, information technology, healthcare or business management.
Eligible candidates for the Michigan Reconnect program must:
Be at least 25-years-old when they apply
Have lived in Michigan for a year or more
Have a high school diploma
Have not yet completed a college degree (associate’s or bachelor’s)
Starting Tuesday, Michiganders can submit applications at michigan.gov/Reconnect. The application takes less than five minutes to complete and can be done on a mobile device. The website also contains a list of eligible colleges, which includes Henry Ford College in Dearborn, and answers to other questions.
The scholarships are accepted by all Michigan community colleges and are even available to eligible adults who are already enrolled in their local community college. The program pays the remaining balance of tuition and mandatory fees after other state and federal financial aid have been applied. For those who choose to attend an out-of-district community college, the program will pay the in-district portion of tuition.
The state says that as of as of 2019, only 41 percent of Michigan’s working-age residents had an associate’s degree or higher, placing Michigan at 31st in the nation. The average age of Michigan’s 365,232 residents currently enrolled at a community college is 25.7 years old, and more than 36 percent are 25 or older.
While more than eight in 10 parents of a Michigan high school student expect their child to earn a college degree, 70 percent said that high costs are a barrier, according to a survey commissioned by the Michigan Association of State Universities.
A list of high-demands careers and wages by occupation and region is available on the Michigan Reconnect website.
The program builds on the governor’s previous Futures for Frontliners initiative, to which more than 120,000 Michiganders submitted applications by the Dec. 31 deadline. Approximately 20,000 Michiganders who applied but didn’t qualify for Futures for Frontliners and are 25-years-old or older will automatically be eligible for tuition-free college assistance with Michigan Reconnect.