Michigan Reconnect Program Sees Ongoing Success, Regional Economic Impact

On Monday, Republican and Democratic state legislators met with northern Michigan community colleges to talk about the ongoing success of the Michigan Reconnect program.

“Business grows when its workforce is strong,” says Nikki Devitt, president of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Michigan Reconnect is a state-wide program that provides free tuition at Michigan community colleges for eligible students 25 or older.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) says since the program started on February 2nd, they’ve received more than 40,000 applications.

“In northern Michigan and the upper peninsula, a total of 395,000 residents would be eligible for this scholarship,” says Susan Corbin, acting director of LEO.

For those who don’t qualify because they don’t live in a community college district, can receive in-district tuition costs.

“But that should not be a barrier because this program is still a considerable offer and offsets so much of your tuition, even if you have to attend a community college that you are not in district of,” says Corbin.

State Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) says right now, only 34 percent of people in northern Michigan and the UP have an associate’s degree or higher.

“Getting that college degree or training certificate will go a long way towards building a strong regional workforce, which benefits families and communities alike,” says Sen. Schmidt.

The goal is to boost the local economy by increasing skilled labor.

Bill Raymond, CEO for the Upper Peninsula Michigan Works!, says, “Michigan has more than 525,000 job openings projected through the year 2028. These openings are in high demand, high wage fields and have opportunities in the area of information technology, computer science, manufacturing, health care and all kinds of professional trades.”

Don MacMaster, president of Alpena Community College, says, and get people into rewarding careers:

“The program is ideal for people who had always planned to go college, but life somehow got in the way. You see this all the time at community colleges.”

For those at least 25 years old, have lived in Michigan for a year or more, have a high school diploma and have not yet completed a college degree, go to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity website at michigan.gov/reconnect to get started with your application.