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Gov. Whitmer, Sen. Anthony honor thousands of Michigan Reconnect graduates during first-ever virtual celebration, highlight importance of lowering costs for Michigan families

Since launch in 2021, more than 7,000 Michigan students statewide have graduated through the Reconnect program that makes postsecondary education more affordable, attainable 

Today’s honorees include Reconnect grads from across the state, with remarks from students from Lansing, Alpena and Detroit 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined state Sen. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP), students and partners today to celebrate more than 7,000 Michigan Reconnect students in the program’s first-ever graduation ceremony. The celebration recognized the significant accomplishments of those who took advantage of the Michigan Reconnect scholarship that lowered costs and offered a tuition-free path to Michiganders seeking a degree or skills certificate that leads to rewarding careers and higher wages. 

“Today we celebrate the thousands of Michiganders who are graduating this year thanks to Michigan Reconnect,” said Gov. Whitmer. “I am so proud of every Reconnector who went back to school to pursue their passion or switch careers. They persevered, often juggling work, life, and school. By establishing Reconnect and lowering the age of eligibility to 21, we have created a tuition-free path to an associate degree or skills certificate for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. Let’s keep working together to help anyone “make it” in Michigan and build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and our state.”

More than 7,000 Michigan students have graduated through the Reconnect program since it was created in 2021. And thousands more are on their way – the program has lowered costs for individuals and families, providing a tuition-free path for over 163,000 applicants and 46,000 students who enrolled.

“Today’s graduation celebration goes right to the heart of why we created Reconnect in the first place. It’s inspiring to see everything these individuals have accomplished and watch as our state moves closer to reaching our Sixty by 30 goal,” said Appropriations Chair Sarah Anthony. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to follow their dreams. As we move forward with the budget process, I am excited to build on our investments in education and workforce development to ensure every Michigander has the skills they need to succeed.”

The Michigan Senate Democratic majority passed its “Building Up Michigan” state budget for 2025 on May 15. The 2025 budget also includes the governor’s proposal for two years of tuition-free education for those enrolling in one of Michigan’s community colleges, which could save students an average of $4,000 as they earn an associate degree or skills certificate.

Michigan Reconnect, along with the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, is administered through MiLEAP, which was created in December 2023.

“We are delighted to celebrate Reconnect graduates. MiLEAP is proud to work with current and prospective Reconnectors to help them earn the skill certificate or degree they need to reach their career goals,” said Michelle Richard, acting MiLEAP director. “We are continuing to spread the word about Michigan Reconnect and the Michigan Achievement Scholarship to show people that college is more affordable than they might think. I am very proud of the work we are doing to make higher education more attainable, and we will continue to build on this momentum.”

Programs like Reconnect help the state achieve its Sixty by 30 goal aimed at increasing the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from the current level of 51.1% to 60% by 2030.

Also focused on helping the state attain the Sixty by 30 goal is Michigan College Access Network (MCAN).

“Michigan Reconnect has been a game-changer for our state. We cannot hit the state’s Sixty by 30 goal without adult students and Reconnect opens the door for them. This support is especially necessary for low-income students, first-generation college students and students of color,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN Director.

Michigan Reconnect, which has a temporary age expansion for those in the age 24-21 range, currently offers free tuition to students who attend in-district community colleges and substantially reduced tuition for students attending out-of-district community colleges. The age expansion, which is designed to support students whose education was disrupted by the covid pandemic, was made possible with $70 million of Fiscal Recovery Fund dollars, thanks to the Biden Administration. 

For Reconnect students such as Chelsea Tatroe and her mother, Jamie Berry, the deeply discounted tuition means more opportunity.

“If it weren’t for Michigan Reconnect, I would not have gotten my degree and my mother would not have realized her lifelong goal of having a degree,” said Tatroe, 34. Tatroe graduated from Lansing Community College with an associate degree in social science in Dec. 2023, while Berry is working toward her associate degree in human resources.

“I tried to finish college twice before and the debt from the student loans put me in a tight spot financially,” Tatroe said. “Reconnect provided me with an opportunity for a degree that was affordable and took less time.”

Jimmy Wright, a recent Reconnect graduate of Alpena Community College, agreed about the value of the program.

“The Reconnect program allowed me to go to school full time and earn a degree in less time because I wasn’t paying for it out of my pocket,” Wright said.  “Reconnect is a phenomenal program that has help me achieve my goals and continue to advance in my field. It opened up a lot of opportunities.”

Ahmani Ashanti, a graduate of Wayne County Community College, said school wasn’t really an option until she found out about Reconnect.

I wasn’t set up for college,” said Ashanti, who worked full time and has a six-year-old son.  “I knew the things I wanted to accomplish in life and what I wanted to do, and I needed to go to school. Reconnect gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Ashanti recently graduated from Wayne State with a sociology degree and is working toward going to graduate school.

“As a mother I wanted to have a legacy for my child,” Ashanti said. “I read somewhere that the child never goes farther than the mother, I think that is true, but now I can teach my child that nothing is impossible.”


About Michigan Reconnect

The Michigan Reconnect program was designed to lower the cost of college and support the state’s educational goals while offering financial assistance to eligible people 25 and older. The eligibility age was temporarily lowered to 21 in October 2023. This scholarship aims to increase access to higher education and workforce development. Learn more at

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