New state program to fund tuition for associate’s degrees, skills certificates

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The state is launching a $30 million program aimed at boosting Michigan’s workforce and give people an opportunity to advance their careers.

It’s called the Michigan Reconnect program, and it could help more than 4 million Michiganders who do not already have a college degree get an associate’s degree or a skills certificate.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and lawmakers from both parties announced the start of the program Tuesday.

“Regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, we can all agree on the importance of making sure that every Michigander has a path to a good-paying job here in our state,” Whitmer said. “Nearly every business owner, organized labor official, even high school principals can agree that Michigan needs to take innovative steps like these to develop a more skilled workforce. It’s not just smart to do for our state’s economy, but the right thing to do to create pathways for Michigan workers; pathways to hope and to equity and to stronger families and to stronger communities across our state.”

The program will cover costs — after state and federal aid — for the community college within the recipient’s district and scholarships for 70 private training schools for trades involved in manufacturing, construction, IT, health care and business management. You can apply online at Michigan.gov/Reconnect.

Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink said in a Tuesday statement that the program is a great start for people who have had to put off advancing their education.

“Many of students and others in our community are experiencing financial difficulties during the pandemic. Reconnect will remove tuition as a financial challenge, or an obstacle to getting a quality GRCC education,” Pink said. “We are committed to other supports to help students take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity, from academic assistance to schedules accommodating home and work responsibilities. We are a partner in our students’ success. No one should feel they are taking these steps alone.”

GRCC has set up a webpage, grcc.edu/reconnect; email address, reconnect@grcc.edu; a phone number, 616.234.3366, and a texting option, 616.504.6178; to provide people with information about the program.

It has also set up information sessions that you can register for online:

(English)

  • Friday, Feb. 5, at noon.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 9 a.m.
  • Monday, March 8, at 6 p.m.

(Spanish)

  • Thursday, Feb. 11, at noon.
  • Tuesday, March 2 at 9 a.m.
  • Wednesday, March 24 at 6 p.m.

The about 20,000 people who applied but were not eligible for Whitmer’s Futures for Frontliners program for COVID-19 essential workers will be automatically eligible for Michigan Reconnect.

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