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Free Community College Tuition Could Be in Michigan’s Future

The crowd cheered on Governor Whitmer at her 2024 State Of The State Address as she asked lawmakers to make community college tuition free for the first two years for all high school graduates. In response to last year’s address, state law makers temporarily granted a similar request for Michiganders ages 21 years or older awarding two years of free tuition. This comes off of the state’s Reconnect program originally allowing people 25 years or older to receive those benefits. ACC president Dr. Don MacMaster is excited for the impact it could make, “We’re for anything that provides access to students and helps them attend Alpena Community College or any community college. We think that’s a great start, there’s many programs that we offer that are life changing and access to that through state funding is a good thing.”

Finances are often one of the biggest barriers to a college education and removing that could help Governor Whitmer’s Sixty by 30 goal, “As Michiganders pursue an associate’s degree or skills certificate at a community college, they can save an average of $4,000 on tuition,” said Whitmer. “This is a transformational opportunity for graduating seniors and will help us achieve our Sixty by 30 goal, having 60% of our adult populations with post secondary skills, training, or a degree by 2030.”

If lawmakers follow Whitmer’s request, the impacts could increase enrollment at ACC, something that is vital to its growth. While enrollment is crucial, MacMaster urges that retention is key to fostering growth, “It’s not just about getting student in the door, its helping them succeed. That’s the other piece of it that’s really important, is getting them here, but then helping them succeed the retention part is also really important.”

Michigan is currently ranked 37th nationally in education attainment and this new initiative could help bring Michigan up to speed with the rest of the Great Lake Region.