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Gov Whitmer Highlights $6 Million Bipartisan Investment to Help More Michigan Reconnect Recipients Stay on Path to Associate Degree or Certificate
June 29, 2022
New grants to community colleges and tribal colleges remove more barriers to higher education, improve student success
LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined officials from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and Republican and Democratic legislators to announce a $6 million, bipartisan investment to help enrollees in Michigan Reconnect address major barriers they face as they return to college or enroll for the first time. In partnership with Michigan community and tribal colleges, the resources will help Michiganders with the cost of books, childcare, food, internet access, and transportation, as they pursue their tuition-free associate’s degrees or skills certificates.
“Michigan Reconnect is helping thousands of hard-working men and women take the first step toward a brighter future,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “Thanks to bipartisan support, we can offer Reconnect students the additional support they need to enroll and excel in skills training and associate degree programs so they can pursue good-paying, high-skill jobs. Together, we can put everyone on a path to prosperity.”
Michigan’s public community colleges and tribal colleges will utilize a portion of the $6 million in wraparound grants from LEO to provide additional financial support for Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners students.
“This effort is a critical investment in helping more people successfully complete a certificate or degree program,” LEO Director Susan Corbin said. “By removing barriers to education, we can help more hard-working Michiganders stay on the path to bigger paychecks and a successful future.”
Grants will be awarded based on the proportion of Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners students at each community college or tribal college. Institutions will have one calendar year from the date of the award to distribute funds — up to $550 per student per academic year – and Frontliners and Reconnect students are encouraged to talk to their community or tribal college about these grant opportunities.
To be eligible for the grants, students must:
- Be Michigan Reconnect or Futures for Frontliners scholarship participants.
- Have completed at least one semester with respective scholarship program they are participating in.
- Be enrolled in or enrolling for a following qualifying semester.
LEO is working with community colleges and tribal colleges to have grant agreements in place by the end of July.
The wraparound grants build on Michigan’s network of people and resources in place to provide students with the critical support they need to successfully enroll in classes and complete a skill certificate or associate degree program.
To help Reconnect students succeed with the steps leading up to enrolling with a community college, the state’s Reconnect Navigators are available to help applicants complete admissions and financial aid requirements, set career goals, identify relevant educational opportunities and create a plan to graduate. Navigators also connect students to additional programs and assistance offered by their community college and local partners to remove barriers to education.
“Going back to school or starting for the first time isn’t always easy to do, especially if you have a family, a full-time job or any number of life responsibilities,” Student Success Manager for LEO’s Office of Sixty by 30 Jayshona Hicks said. “It’s important for people to know they’re not in this alone, and our Navigators are here to help them every step of the way.”
LEO will make stops across the state this summer to highlight the new grant program and other resources and services available through the state, community colleges and community partners to help Michigan Reconnect students enroll and successfully complete their degree or certificate programs.
The tour’s aim is to highlight how programs such as Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners are creating a rewarding path to in-demand careers for tens of thousands of Michiganders and celebrating the state’s latest Sixty by 30 achievements.
Since Michigan Reconnect launched in February 2021, over 98,000 Michiganders have been accepted into the program with nearly 16,000 participating in the scholarship program, helping to drive success toward meeting Gov. Whitmer’s Sixty by 30 goal of having 60% of Michiganders with post-secondary or skills training by 2030
More information is available at Michigan.gov/Reconnect.
About Michigan Reconnect
Michigan Reconnect is the largest effort in state history to ensure that Michiganders who are 25 or older and do not have a college degree have an opportunity to earn an associate degree or skills certificate with free or deeply discounted tuition.
Michigan Reconnect pays the cost of in-district tuition for eligible adults who want to pursue an associate degree or skills certificate at any of Michigan’s public community colleges, including its three tribal colleges. Eligible residents can attend community college tuition-free at a community college where they are considered in-district. For those who are not considered in-district by a community college, Michigan Reconnect will still cover up to the in-district portion of tuition.
In order to receive the Michigan Reconnect scholarship, participants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The deadline to do so for the 2021-2022 academic year is June 30, 2022. Even if the FAFSA indicates an applicant is not eligible for federal aid they are still eligible for Reconnect, which will cover in-district tuition, mandatory fees and contact hours.
Reconnect Navigators host weekly drop-in sessions every Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. to help answer questions about completing the FAFSA.