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Michigan Reconnect Program: It’s Never too Late to Graduate

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Renovations on the fifth floor of RJF Hall on GRCC's main campus. (Andrew Schmidt/GRCC Communications)

The State of Michigan is providing an opportunity for individuals aged 25 or older to receive an associate’s degree or certificate through their local community college at no cost.

Michigan Reconnect scholarship program was launched Feb. 2, 2021, and allows previous or current students to further their education at a discounted or entirely free rate for the cost of tuition. Prior to the initial launch date, it was projected that 4.1 million Michiganders would be eligible for this program.

According to GRCC Communications Director Dave Murray, there are nearly 700 students enrolled through the Michigan Reconnect program and roughly 1,500 students enrolled through the Futures for Frontliners program at GRCC this semester. The program was integrated at GRCC at the start of the 2021 summer semester where roughly 1,500 combined reconnect and frontliner students were enrolled.

“These state programs provide fantastic opportunities for residents that start a college education, restart an education, or continue one,” Murray said. “They remove cost as an obstacle. And once students are here, we want to surround them with the support services they need so they can successfully reach their goals.”

To be eligible, individuals must: 

  • Be at least 25 years old when applying
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have lived in Michigan for at least a year
  • Have not completed a college degree (associate’s or bachelor’s)

However, the program is not limited to students that attend a community college. Those interested in receiving a skill certificate from a private training provider could receive a one-time $1,500 Skills Scholarship for Michiganders for an approved training program. 

Students must attend a community college that is in-district in order for tuition to be covered entirely, otherwise, tuition for out-of-district students will be discounted. The program provides services to help calculate tuition costs, apply to a college and/or track an in-district college, additional benefits to veterans/service members and their families, information about career opportunities, and so on. 

According to the Michigan Reconnect webpage, 75% of Michigan jobs will require education beyond high school, while individuals with a two-year degree see at least $7,500 more in earnings per year.

The program recognizes how difficult it is to consider returning to school when life obligations get in the way. Child care, transportation, and tuition costs can create insurmountable barriers to furthering education, which is why the state offers more than 30,000 state and local services across Michigan to help ease the transition back to school. Information about these services can be found on the same webpage linked above. 

Michigan Reconnect is part of the Sixty by 30 initiative created by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) officials. The initiative was created in order to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from the current 49% statistic to 60% by 2030. 

“… A technical certification, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or beyond, can open so many doors to opportunity and help Michiganders get good-paying, high-skill jobs in high-demand, high-growth industries,” Whitmer said in a press release.

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