Students are taking full advantage of the local and state education programs recently, and Grand Rapids Community College has seen this year’s enrollment shooting upward by 4.4% since the beginning of the pandemic.
The increased enrollment can likely be credited to more learning format options offered at GRCC, an uptick of scholarship and grant funds, and more importantly, two significant education programs that were adopted by the college this year.
Michigan Reconnect offers students, age 25 and older without a degree, a chance to further their education at an in-district community college at little to no cost. This semester, 998 students are enrolled through this program. It is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Sixty by 30” initiative, which is an effort to have 60% of working-age adults as holders of a skill certificate or college degree by 2030.
Additional information is available at grcc.edu/reconnect.
Futures for Frontliners is another education program integrated at the school in the 2021 summer semester. According to the Michigan.gov webpage, it is a state scholarship program without college degrees who worked in essential industries during the state COVID-19 shutdown in spring 2020. Those awarded with the scholarship have access to tuition-free education at an in-district community college to pursue an associate degree or a skills certificate. Those who live out of district, get to attend for in-district prices through this program. Currently, 2,019 Raiders are enrolled through the program.
According to a GRCC press release, there has been a recent increase of adults attending the college. Students between the ages of 30-39 enrolled at the school have risen by 37% (1,643 total), and those ages 40-49 have increased by 57% (628 total). During the 2020-21 academic year, 26% of Raiders were age 25 and older in the fall semester and 30.3% of students fell into this age group during the winter semester.
The average age of students in those semesters was 23.4-years-old in the fall, and 24.3-years-old in the winter.
This semester, 95% of seats are full at the Holland Lakeshore Campus, with roughly 750 students enrolled at the campus. Currently, only 75% of class seats are available at this current time due to social distancing protocols.
“We are absolutely hoping to see an enrollment increase at the new GRCC Lakeshore Campus,” said GRCC Communications Director Dave Murray. “Our goal is to make higher education more accessible and affordable for Lakeshore residents, and the consolidated campus will help more people reach their educational goals and change their lives.”
“It’s exciting to think about the potential for students looking for credits for degrees, as well as those seeking career-focused certificates, all at that new location,” he said.
The increase of enrollment comes after a declining enrollment rate for the 2020-21 academic year (fall and winter semesters). The 2020 fall semester saw an 8.8% decrease in enrollment compared to 2019 (12,153 students) while the following winter semester saw only 11,317 students (1,269 fewer students than 2019).
As of Sept. 23, 12,586 students are enrolled at GRCC for the fall semester with the average age of students being 24-years-old.