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Gov. Whitmer Launches ‘Opening Week’ of Michigan Reconnect Expansion, Adults Ages 21 and Over Eligible for Tuition-Free Community College

Tuition-free community college program expansion provides limited-time opportunity for those under 25 to enroll before window closes next fall    

LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer kicked off “Opening Week” for adults ages 21 to 24 who have not yet earned a college degree to enroll in Michigan Reconnect, a tuition-free community college scholarship program previously limited to those 25 and older.  

“By temporarily lowering the age for Michigan Reconnect from 25 to 21, we're opening doors of opportunity for up to 350,000 more Michiganders earn a tuition-free associates degree or skills certificate,” said Governor Whitmer. “This expansion will help us reach our Sixty by 30 goal—to have 60% of adults earn a postsecondary education or training by 2030—and build on our economic momentum. With low unemployment, growing advanced manufacturing industries, and strong small business growth, we need to expand Reconnect to bolster our pipeline for talented workers. Together, we can help more young Michiganders ‘make it’ in Michigan and build a brighter, more prosperous future for families and businesses.”  

The Michigan Reconnect program established by Governor Whitmer in February 2021 is the largest such program in state history and its success – as well as its importance to Michigan’s long-term economic growth – has resulted in increased funding and reinvestment in each subsequent year, including $70 million for expansion.  

Since Michigan Reconnect began less than three years ago, more than 132,000 Michiganders have applied to the program. 

“Our first priority as public servants is to help Michiganders be their best selves right here in Michigan,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “For almost three years, Michigan Reconnect has helped hundreds of thousands of Michiganders do just that, putting them on paths to high-skilled, good-paying jobs through college degrees and skills training certificates. I have spoken with Reconnectors throughout the state, and without exception they have each expressed gratitude for the opportunities, encouragement and inspiration they received from Michigan Reconnect from the time they took their first step toward earning a degree or certificate to the moment they completed their program. Let’s continue building on our success and helping more Michiganders succeed.” 

Including the younger age bracket has a limited shelf life. Applicants ages 21 to 24 must enroll no later than the fall semester 2024, to take advantage of the temporary expansion. Director Corbin stressed the importance of students in the 21-24 age bracket must also apply for Reconnect before the application closes on Nov. 15, 2024. 

“For currently enrolled students or potential students ages 21 to 24, now is the time to get on board and sign up for Reconnect while the opportunity exists. The time to apply is limited, but your future doesn’t have to be,” Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Susan Corbin said. “We want every eligible person to take advantage of this tuition-free opportunity to earn a degree or certificate that will prepare them for the high-paying jobs and set them on a course for a better future.” 

Billy Williams, 43, a married father of five who lives in Lansing, understands the value of Reconnect from two perspectives. Reconnect has provided him with the opportunity to return to college after 25 years to pursue a degree in computer science at LCC and the expansion will allow his 21-year-old daughter Victoria to attend LLC tuition-fee as she continues pursuing a psychology degree.  

“I wanted more out of my life than what I was able to get without a college degree, so I figured it was time for me to go back to school when I heard about Reconnect,” Williams said. “The Reconnect expansion means my daughter will get a much-deserved financial break as she works toward her goals. My family appreciates the opportunities that Michigan Reconnect offers.” 

Until Reconnect lowered the eligibility age, Victor Rich, 21, of Lansing, had delayed his college plans. The 2020 Waverly High School graduate put off college during the COVID-19 pandemic and after three years was unsure when he could afford to begin studying astronomy and military history at Lansing Community College. Reconnect gave him a chance. 

“I was thrilled to learn about the Reconnect expansion and I enrolled at LCC this fall knowing that the expansion was coming,” Rich said. “Reconnect for me has meant not having to delay my dreams. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity. I told all my buddies about it.” 

Rich’s father also is a Reconnector who just earned a welding certificate from LCC. 

Jacobs said lowering the Reconnect age eligibility builds on the current program’s success and will contribute to strengthening Michigan’s economic future. 

“This is a transformational opportunity for students in the expansion age group, many of whom had their postsecondary education disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michigan College Access Network Deputy Director Jamie Jacobs. “Expanding Reconnect is an investment that will not only impact students and their families, but their communities and our entire state as well. By increasing college access for all students — especially low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color — we can help Michigan residents gain the skills necessary to fulfill their goals and enhance our state economy.” 

Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) said the 31 community and tribal colleges across the state are excited and ready to help connect the newly included age group to Michigan Reconnect. 

“This limited-time offer to help 350,000 Michiganders on a path to a tuition-free degree or certificate is an opportunity no one should pass up,” MCCA Vice President Erica Orians said. “Michigan’s community and tribal colleges are working hard to ensure these newly-eligible students – including those who are already enrolled – have all the resources they need to sign up and support them across the finish line.” 

The Reconnect age expansion brings thousands of students one step closer to earning a tuition-free or reduced tuition degree or certificate from a Michigan community or tribal college.  


“Michigan Reconnect has widened the playing field,” Lansing Community College President Steve Robinson said. “This program provides non-traditional age students with the opportunity to pursue college by alleviating stress surrounding cost when many students have families and other financial responsibilities.” Robinson went on to say that LCC has seen an increase in applications: “Since the inception of Michigan Reconnect, we’ve seen applications rise for those 25 years and older and we anticipate the same trend moving forward now that the age requirement has temporarily been lowered to 21.” 

Students not already enrolled must complete these steps to take advantage of this limited-time scholarship: 

  1. Apply for the Michigan Reconnect Scholarship at by Nov. 15, 2024
  2. Apply to a Michigan community or tribal college. 
  3. File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  4. Enroll in your program of study and begin coursework no later than the fall semester 2024. 

Already enrolled students should contact their college’s Financial Aid Office for additional information on applying the Reconnect Scholarship to their tuition bill and filing a FAFSA. 

Learn more about earning a degree or certificate tuition-free through Michigan Reconnect at

Sixty by 30

The governor has set earning a college degree or training certificate as a priority for her administration, with the state’s Sixty by 30 goal to have 60% of working-age adults with a post-high school degree or certificate by 2030. Reconnect is one of several programs aimed at achieving the goal by making college and professional training more accessible and affordable. 

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