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70,000 MI Reconnect applicants set to receive tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate, surpassing state goal
May 21, 2021
With more and more jobs requiring skills and training beyond a high school diploma, the Michigan Reconnect program is providing a tuition-free path to an associate degree or a skills certificate - putting more than 70,000 Michiganders on a path to fill the state's most in-demand, high-wage careers - exceeding the state's goal of 60,000 by Memorial Day.
The nation's first program of its kind, Futures for Frontliners, and the new $30 million bipartisan Michigan Reconnect program shows the state's continued commitment to its Sixty by 30 goal of ensuring 60% of Michiganders will have a postsecondary degree by 2030. Futures for Frontliners has seen more than 15,000 enroll in tuition-free paths to postsecondary education and is among Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's signature accomplishments.
"A talented and skilled workforce helps build a strong economy and puts Michigan on the map as a place for opportunity," Gov. Whitmer said. "Businesses need skilled talent so they can thrive in our vibrant communities. I'm proud of the hardworking men and women who have taken the leap to continue their education and I look forward to ongoing bipartisan work with lawmakers to connect millions of Michiganders to the resources they need to succeed in a good-paying career."
Within the Sept. 10 - Dec. 31 application period, over 120,000 frontline workers applied for Futures for Frontliners - 117,230 to complete a two-year degree or skills certificate, and 4,287 to receive adult education services before or while they are enrolled in postsecondary education or training.
Frontliners scholarship recipients are well on their way to filling the state's most in-demand careers with more than 530,000 jobs expected to become available by 2028 in the Professional Trades alone.
Frontliners have until the end of 2021 to enroll in classes to take advantage of the free-tuition program.
An education beyond high school opens the door to many new opportunities - with earnings of $7,500 more per year for those with a two-year degree, and where 70% of jobs will require post-secondary Education.
"Talent is one of the single most important factors in business attraction and growth," Susan Corbin, LEO acting director said. "Creating equitable access to education opens doors to develop the state's most valuable resource - our workers. Providing hardworking Michiganders with the skills to fill a high-demand career, puts more money in their pockets and creates a better quality of life for them and their families."
While the state is encouraged by the community college enrollment numbers - which have seen a national decline of more than 10% - it is understood that taking the leap to continue education is not easy for some. The state and partner agencies stand at the ready to assist adult learners, whether it be to provide child care, transportation, or additional financial support. There are resources available through the following local partners:
"Michigan Works! partners with regional employers, educators, economic and community organizations to remove barriers so any job seeker who requests our services can get connected with the resources they need to be successful in a rewarding career," said Ben Damerow, director, Michigan Works! Southwest. "The Michigan Works! network is the go-to resource for matching skilled talent with employers needing to fill jobs that support the local and regional economy."
The state encourages Reconnect applicants to take the next step in the process and complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and begin to enroll in community college or adult education program - it's not too late.
Michigan Reconnect builds on the success of the Futures for Frontliners and will pay the cost of in-district tuition, mandatory fees and contact hours for eligible adults who want to pursue an associate degree or skills certificate at a Michigan public community college.
Reconnect scholarships are accepted by all Michigan public community colleges and are even available to eligible adults who are already enrolled at a Michigan public community college. The program pays the remaining balance of in-district tuition, contact hours 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.
To be eligible for Michigan Reconnect, you must:
- Be at least 25 years old when you apply
- Have lived in Michigan for a year or more
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- Have not yet completed a college degree (associate or bachelor's)
Interested Michiganders 25+ should visit michigan.gov/Reconnect to explore statewide and regional in-demand career opportunities and get started on their application.
Whether you're just starting your career exploration or considering a change in profession, those who may not qualify for Reconnect and are interested in education beyond high school are encouraged to explore free education and training resources at Skills to Work, including opportunities to take College Board's College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests for free through ModernStates.org.