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Michigan Reconnect expansion takes effect

A program aimed at getting more Michigan residents a college degree is expanding eligibility, at least temporarily.

Michigan Reconnect provides free local community college tuition toward an associate degree or certificate for those who don’t already have a post-secondary degree.

It’s usually only available to those aged 25 and up. But the state’s new budget lowered that age to 21. The new budget took effect this week. The expanded funding expires at the end of the fiscal year.

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist said the program opens the door to possibility.

“Not just educational possibility but economic mobility. Recognizing that the way we enable people to improve their quality of life is by helping them make more money. That seems pretty straightforward. And the best way to do that is to connect people to resources to gain more education,” Gilchrist said at a press conference Tuesday.

A press release from the governor’s office said more than 132,000 people have applied to the program since its launch in February 2021.

Residents between the ages of 21-24 have until next fall to apply before their eligibility ends. The press release said that’s around 350,000 more people who can take part.

That includes Lansing Community College student Victor Rich, who said the tuition aid puts him a step closer to his goal of working for NASA.

“For three years after high school, I thought I might not have the opportunity to go to college until I put enough money away. Then I heard about the Michigan Reconnect program from my mom. I looked into it and was disappointed that you had to be 25. When I first heard a few months ago that Michigan Reconnect expansion was lowering the age to 21, I knew I had to do it,” Rich said.

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