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Northern Michigan Leaders applaud MI Reconnect program

LANSING, Mich. Legislative, education, economic development and business leaders from northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula joined Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) to voice their support and tout local benefits for residents taking advantage of the state’s new Michigan Reconnect program.

The aim of Michigan Reconnect is to make it easier and more affordable than ever for adults with some or no college experience to earn a postsecondary degree or skills certificate. In northern Michigan and the U.P., 395,000 residents would be eligible for the scholarship.

“With more than 40,000 applications submitted statewide since the program launched on Feb. 2, the response to Michigan Reconnect is certainly off to a good start,” said Susan Corbin, acting director for LEO. “But we can’t stop there. In order to ensure all Michiganders have an opportunity for a prosperous future, we need all businesses, teachers, parents, family and friends encouraging those they work with or know to take that leap and take advantage of this opportunity to achieve their associate degree or skills certificate for little to no cost.”

Michigan Reconnect is the largest effort in state history to ensure Michiganders who are 25 or older and don’t have a college degree – more than 4.1 million people in all – have an opportunity to earn a tuition-free or deeply discounted associate degree or skills certificate. Reconnect scholarships are accepted by all Michigan community colleges and are also available to eligible adults already enrolled in their local community college. The program pays the remaining balance of tuition and mandatory fees after other state and federal financial aid have been applied.

“Our school and others in northern Michigan and the U.P. are seeing a huge interest in using Reconnect scholarships to begin – or sometimes to wrap up ­– that associate degree or skills certificate,” said Donald MacMaster, Alpena Community College president.

Eligible residents can attend community college tuition-free at the campus within their community college district. For those who don’t live in-district or choose to attend another campus, Reconnect will cover the in-district portion of tuition.

“While we understand that many residents in northern Michigan and the U.P. live outside a community college district, we believe discounting tuition helps make a postsecondary degree more affordable for everyone,” Corbin added.

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 program applicants in WBKB’s coverage area include 6,346 residents in Alcona County, 14,320 residents in Alpena County,  14,494 in Iosco County, 5,665 in Montmorency County, and  7,195 in Presque Isle County.