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WATCH: Whitmer kicks off Michigan Reconnect program

Program offers free community college to eligible residents
GRCC Reconnect CIS_Systems_class.jpg
Posted at 9:06 AM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 13:32:05-05

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined both Republican and Democratic leaders in the state Tuesday afternoon to kick off the Michigan Reconnect program.

Beginning Tuesday, Michigan residents who do not already have a college degree will be able to apply to earn a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate at their in-district community college.

The program also offers a skills scholarship for residents to help cover the cost of tuition at 70 private training schools with 120 certificate programs in high-demand areas, such as manufacturing, construction, information technology, health care or business management.

Applications for the program can be found here.

Watch the press conference:

“All Michiganders deserve a pathway to a good-paying job, whether they choose to pursue a college degree, technical certificate, or an apprenticeship,” Whitmer said. "Michigan Reconnect will connect thousands of Michiganders to good-paying jobs and connect businesses with the talent they need to thrive in their communities. I’m proud of the hard work that has gone into creating this historic new opportunity and look forward to continuing bipartisan work with lawmakers toward our goal of ensuring 60% of Michiganders will have a postsecondary degree by 2030.”

Reconnect scholarships are accepted by all Michigan community colleges and are also 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, Reconnect will pay the in-district portion of tuition.

“Many of students and others in our community are experiencing financial difficulties during the pandemic. Reconnect will remove tuition as a financial obstacle to getting a quality GRCC education,” Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink said.

To be eligible for Michigan Reconnect, residents 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 or bachelor’s)

State officials say Michigan employers’ ability to find highly skilled and capable employees is more difficult than ever and is cited as a top concern in the most recent Michigan Future Business Index Report.

As of 2019, 41% of Michigan’s working-age residents had an associate 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% are 25 or older, according to the Michigan Community College Association.

“Even if Michigan were able to keep every high school and college graduate, it wouldn't be enough to fill our state’s talent gap,” state Sen. Ken Horn said. “Our aim with Michigan Reconnect is to meet our state’s workforce need by encouraging and assisting residents to afford and achieve a college credential or advanced certificate. Now our state has a tool to reach out to adults wanting to pursue postsecondary education, if they choose to.”