LANSING — In the two weeks since launch, more than 40,000 Michiganders have submitted applications to take advantage of the Michigan Reconnect program on their path to pursuing an associate degree or skills certificate though their local, in-district community college.
The new bipartisan initiative – one of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature accomplishments introduced in her first state of the state address – is a key tool to ensure 60 percent of Michiganders have a degree or post-secondary credential by 2030 to ultimately build a better Michigan.
It is also the state’s largest effort in history to ensure Michiganders age 25 or older without a college degree have an opportunity to earn an associate degree or skills certificate.
Michigan Reconnect will also help address the dual challenges of the state’s widening talent gap and aging workforce. Michigan employers’ ability to find highly skilled and capable employees is more difficult than ever and is cited as a top concern in the most recent Michigan Future Business Index Report.
“Michigan Reconnect isn’t just smart for our state’s economy,” said Susan Corbin, acting director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “It’s the right way to create pathways for Michigan workers – pathways to hope, pathways to equity and pathways to stronger families and communities.”
Initially, the state also offered up to $1.5 million in skills scholarships at private training schools. Less than 18 hours after applications opened on Feb. 2, more than 1,700 people applied for those dollars and the private training portion of the program had to be closed.
“The good news is that many community colleges offer skills certificates for high-demand careers in industries such as manufacturing, construction, information technology, healthcare or business management,” Corbin added. “Michiganders interested in a professional trades career can still take advantage of Michigan Reconnect by pursuing credentials through their community college.”
If students attend college in the district where they live, tuition is free. If they attend a college in a district where they don’t live, Reconnect pays the in-district part of the tuition and the student will only need to pay the remaining balance.
To be eligible for Michigan Reconnect, you must:
• Be at least 25 years old when you apply
• Have lived in Michigan for a year or more
• Have a high school diploma
• Have not yet completed a college degree (associate or bachelor’s)
Eligible residents can learn more and apply for Michigan Reconnect at michigan.gov/Reconnect. — G.G.