Education Advocates Push College Access Help in Lansing

There has been a recent push to get more Michiganders access to more education and Wednesday the state legislature met the push face to face.

Wednesday was the third annual College Access Advocacy Day in the state capitol.

Representatives from school districts, colleges and local access networks came to Lansing to sit down with legislators and stress the importance of post-secondary education.

“We’re really at a crossroads where we can really propel this momentum that we have,” says Christopher Tremblay of the Michigan College Access Network.

Improving Michigan’s post secondary education has been a slow process but Governor Gretchen Whitmer set a goal when she took office, 60% of Michiganders with post secondary attainment by the year 2030.

“In order to get there, we have to reduce barriers related to cost and affordability,” says Tremblay.

It’s a lofty goal given the state is at 45% right now. There are new programs in the recent budget proposals that should help, by giving relief and funding for those struggling to pay for college.

“Having the support from the Governor, having the support from the legislature is key in being able to move forward with some of these initiatives,” says Jeff Stewart with Ferris State University Admissions.

More than 100 education advocates sat down with their local representatives and their staffs to push the message, stressing the importance of making college accessible.

“We believe college is a necessity,” says Tremblay, “Especially if you want to earn a living wage and if you want to be a productive citizen in our state and have opportunities available to you.”

When the Access Network says that college is a priority and it is for everyone, they aren’t talking about just four-year universities. They’re talking about two-year associate degrees or any sort of certificate you can get from a community college towards a skill.

“The idea is, there needs to be some sort of training past high school in order to find sustainable employment,” says Nick Palmer of the Mason County College Access Network.

The idea is a better educated workforce means more income and more income means a larger tax base and less stress on government programs. The Michigan College Access Network approves of any plan that gets Michigan to that point.

“We will gladly take any idea and run with it,” says Palmer, “As long as it helps the kids of Northern Michigan and in the Upper Peninsula.”