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Grand Rapids Community College says governor's plan would benefit many

Grand Rapids Community College photo

During her most recent State of the State address, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her plan for making community college free for all high school graduates

The Michigan Reconnect program was launched in 2021 and helped high school graduates 25 years or older cover the costs of earning an associate degree or certificate through community college. Recently, the Legislature temporarily reduced the minimum age to 21. Now the governor is proposing that a high school graduate of any age should be able to attend community college tuition-free.

Jason Schueller with Grand Rapids Community College says such a program would greatly benefit not only GRCC, but the West Michigan community as a whole.

“As a community here in Grand Rapids and in West Michigan, Kent County, to help with the labor shortage, especially in the skilled trade areas.”

Under the governor’s proposal, eligible students must have lived in Michigan for at least one year prior to enrollment, must have a high school diploma and can not have previously completed a college degree. Students would have up to three years to obtain their associate’s degree.

Schueller says they’ve seen their enrollment increase at GRCC since 2021, and the lifting of this age restriction will only help the school and the state.

“It’s going to increase those numbers for the governor’s goal of 60% of Michigan residents with a post-secondary degree by 2030, which is not only her goal, but a goal of a lot of industry leaders and employers, too, to help boost up our workforce and our skill force.”

Details on how the program will be funded could come during the governor’s budget presentation to the state legislature today.

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