Michigan lawmakers want to expand tuition-free college program to adults 21 and older

LANSING, MI — Michigan lawmakers are trying to expand a statewide tuition-free college program that allows adult residents to apply for grants to cover community college tuition or training costs in the skilled trades.

The Michigan Reconnect program, which first launched last year, is currently open to adults over the age of 25 who wish to return to school to earn their first associate’s degree or their first skilled trades certification. . The program offers free or greatly reduced tuition to students accepted into the program.

Under legislation introduced in the House this week, the program would be open to adults between the ages of 21 and 24 in a bid to help fill education gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Internal invoices 6129 and 6130which were first read on the House floor on Tuesday, May 24, would temporarily expand the Michigan Reconnect program to include people over the age of 21.

The bipartisan bills were sponsored by State Representatives Ben Frederick, R-Owosso and Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing.

“I am extremely proud of the difference the MI Reconnect program has made in the lives of so many Michiganians, and I am thrilled to build on its success,” Anthony wrote in a prepared statement.

“Expanding age limits and taking steps to make education more accessible will help us meet the needs of learners who might otherwise have fallen through the cracks as a result of the pandemic.”

The Michigan Reconnect program is part of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Sixty by 30 goal, which aims to increase the number of adults with college degrees or diplomas in Michigan to 60 percent. here 2030.

Nearly 93,000 Michigan residents have been accepted into the program since its launch in February 2021, according to the state. website.

In addition to expanding eligibility for the Michigan Reconnect program, the proposed legislation would also give adult learners credit for their prior learning and life experiences when they return to school.

Under the proposal, community colleges would be incentivized to adopt competency-based courses and programs, award credit for prior learning, and accelerate students through their programs faster with college-level credit reviews. .

“Michigans returning to school as adults have unique needs and past life experiences that should be recognized by their institutions,” Frederick said in a prepared statement. “The goal is to enable people to receive a job-related credential with minimal or no debt, so they can progress successfully in their careers.”

House lawmakers also want to create more grant opportunities for short-term job training programs through the bill.

These training programs, which would last from eight to 15 weeks, would allow people to obtain “industry-recognized degrees that are stackable, portable and have been shown to increase income by at least 20% after the end,” according to a joint press release. leaving Anthony and Frederick’s offices.

Frederick, who chairs the House Budget Subcommittee on Community Colleges and Higher Education, allocated $155 million in federal COVID relief funding for the expansion of Michigan Reconnect in the House budget proposal for the next exercise.

House and Senate lawmakers will soon begin negotiations on the state budget, which must be passed by September 30.

House Bills 6129 and 6130 have been referred to the House Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

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