December 8, 2023

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Diving overview:

  • Michigan’s free community college program will temporarily lower the age requirement from 25 to 21, opening eligibility to 350,000 more residents.
  • The Michigan Reconnect program, developed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2021, offers tuition-free community college for adults without a post-secondary education. In her FY24 budget request, Whitmer called for lowering the program’s age eligibility and requested $140 million in one-time funding.
  • The Democratic-controlled state Legislature set aside $70 million to temporarily expand the program in the $81.7 billion FY2024 budget approved in June.

Diving Statistics:

Michigan Reconnect has hired more than 123,000 residents since it launched in February 2021, according to the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. About 27,000 have enrolled in college and at least 2,800 have earned a degree or certificate so far.

Whitmer should sign the state budget by the end of September.

“This will be a game-changer in creating a tuition-free pathway to an associate degree at any of Michigan’s 31 community and tribal colleges,” said Beverly Walker-Griffea, president of Mott Community College and chair of the Michigan Community College Association.

One of them is the Michigan Reconnect program several state-led efforts provide free associate degree programs.

The Maine Legislature recently announced that students graduating from high school in 2024 and 2025 will be eligible for two years of free community tuition.

The state launched the program in April 2022 for high school students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — those graduating between 2020 and 2023. According to the Maine Community College System, about 6,400 people enrolled in the program in its first year.

Lawmakers launched the program with a one-time investment of $20 million. An additional $15 million is earmarked for its expansion in the upcoming budget.

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