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Reconnect boasts 8,000 West Michigan residents who have signed up, as officials call for more

Grand Rapids Community College photo

Officials from the State of Michigan’s Reconnect program gathered virtually Monday to celebrate its success so far, as higher education leaders in West Michigan say thousands have already signed up and been approved.

According to officials, Michigan Reconnect is the largest effort in state history to help residents 25-years or older without a college degree earn a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate at their perspective in-district community college.

And education officials said Monday, the early returns on the program are encouraging—as more than 47,000 Michigan residents – including 8,000 in West Michigan – have submitted applications for free or deeply discounted community college tuition since the scholarships opened Feb. 2.

With nearly 1 million persons in West Michigan who qualify for the scholarships, Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink called on those Monday to take part in the opportunity.

"To all those out there who are eligible, my word to you is 'come on,'" Pink said. "You have an opportunity to really advance what your "next" is." 

ReConnect offers free tuition to residents to attend their local district community college, or a large tuition discount to attend an out-of-district community college, provided applicants are over the age of 25, have completed high school, have lived in Michigan for at least a year and have not completed an undergraduate degree already.

Officials said Monday that, Kent, Muskegon and Kalamazoo counties so far have the largest number of applicants per capita in West Michigan.