GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Governor Whitmer announced a new $30 million program to remove at least one barrier for continued education.
The Michigan Reconnect program covers the cost of community college for those 25 and older who don’t already have a degree.
In a virtual press conference Tuesday, Governor Whitmer said, “This is the largest effort in state history to ensure that 4.1 million Michiganders who are 25 or older and who don’t have a college degree, will now have the opportunity to earn a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate from their local community college.”
Whitmer went on to say the program is part of helping local businesses recruit and retain skilled workers and giving residents more economic opportunities.
She said, “We can all agree on the importance of making sure every Michigander has a path to a good paying job here in our state.”
The scholarship covers programs within your district, so for those living within the boundaries of Kent Intermediate School district, that’ll be Grand Rapids Community College.
“If you are 25 and older, you can come to GRCC, have that tuition paid and take that idea of tuition as a barrier- totally take that off the table. We are very excited about this,” said Dr. Bill Pink, Ph.D., President of GRCC.`
Dr. Pink added that even their current students can take advantage.
“I would encourage those students who are GRCC Raiders already, yet fit that 25 and older and are in school with us right now, to pursue this. Go to the website, get enrolled, and let’s get the rest of that education paid for,“ Dr. Pink said.
The $30 million funding for the scholarship program received bipartisan approval, led by a handful of state legislators, including Rep. Sarah Anthony of Lansing.
“Research shows when adults earn degrees and gain new skills, they have the ability to advance in the workplace, earn higher wages, and fulfill their life’s dreams,” Rep. Anthony said.
It’s all part of the governor's goal to have 60% , f working-age Michiganders earning a college degree or certificate by 2030.
As Susan Corbin, the acting director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity explained, the program is building on the success of the Future for Frontliners initiative that launched last September.
Corbin said, “I’m happy to report 120,000 Michiganders submitted applications by the December 31st deadline. Over 30,000 Michiganders who applied, but didn’t qualify for Futures for Frontliners and are 25 years or older, will automatically be eligible for tuition-free college assistance through Michigan Reconnect.”
Students will be able to start classes as early as this summer. Dr. Pink said the college is excited for what these students will accomplish, whether it’s entering the workforce or going on to a four-year degree.
He said, “They can come to us, they can get a skilled trades degree, it could be in machining, it could be in our culinary school, it could be going toward nursing--there’s all these possibilities.”
Applications are available right now at Michigan.gov/reconnect.
The program will also cover the in-district portion of tuition if a student needs to go to a college outside their area. That comes to about a 50% discount at GRCC if you don’t live in Kent County.
GRCC is hosting a series of information sessions to help guide students through the process.
English sessions are planned for:
- Friday, Feb. 5, at noon.
- Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 9 a.m.
- Monday, March 8, at 6 p.m.
Spanish sessions are planned for:
- Thursday, Feb. 11, at noon.
- Tuesday, March 2 at 9 a.m.
- Wednesday, March 24 at 6 p.m
To learn more, visit GRCC.edu/reconnect.