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New Michigan scholarship program helps 25,000 students pay for college

New Michigan scholarship program helps 25,000 students pay for college

By Kyle Kaminski

December 5, 2023

A new scholarship program from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is translating to cheaper college tuition in Michigan. And millions of dollars are still up for grabs.

LANSING—More than 25,000 college students across Michigan have now taken advantage of a statewide scholarship program that was first unveiled last year by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, which saved them each an average of more than $2,000 on their tuition this fall.

Whitmer said the newly released statistics show that the Michigan Achievement Scholarship is doing its job to lower the cost of community, private, and public college statewide—as well as encourage more students to enroll in post-secondary education and “chase their dreams.”

“By expanding the path to community college, private college, or a public university, we are helping more Michiganders make it in Michigan,” Whitmer said in a statement this week.

How are students saving cash?

The Michigan Achievement Scholarship—which Whitmer’s administration first rolled out last fall—provides tuition scholarships to undergraduate students who graduated from high school (or achieved their high school equivalency certificate) in Michigan in 2023 or later.

How much are they saving?

All told, more than $53 million in scholarships have been distributed to students this year. 

The scholarships vary between $2,000 and $5,500 per year, depending on whether students enroll in a career training program, community college, private college, or public university.

Annually, students may be awarded up to:

  • $2,000 to attend a career training program for up to two years.
  • $2,750 to attend community college for up to three years.
  • $4,000 to attend a private college or university for up to five years.
  • $5,500 to attend a public university for up to five years. 

What are the requirements?

To receive the scholarship, students must be residents of Michigan for at least one year and enroll as a full-time student at a Michigan college, university, or eligible career training program.

They also cannot have a family contribution to their college of expenses of more than $25,000, and are required to maintain passing grades in order to receive funds for the following semester.

How do I apply?

The scholarships are still available to graduating high school seniors and this year’s incoming freshman class. Students can get started with the Michigan Achievement Scholarship—and find access to a host of other federal aid like Pell Grants and student loans—at fafsa.gov.

“If you are thinking about attending college after graduating from high school, please take a few moments to complete the FAFSA,” said Michelle Richard, acting director of the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential. “The time you take to complete this application could considerably reduce the cost of a college degree or certificate.” 

Questions should be directed to [email protected] or 1-888-447-2687.

What else is available for Michigan students?

Two years ago, Whitmer’s administration set a “60 by 30” goal to have 60% of Michigan’s adults attain post-secondary education or skills training by 2030. As of this summer, that statewide rate had climbed from 45% to at least 50%, according to statistics provided by Whitmer’s office.

State officials now estimate that state funding for vocational and career and technical training—as well as the Michigan Achievement Scholarship—will lower the cost of post-secondary education for 80% of Michigan students, and make it free for 65% of them.

About $370 million was earmarked in the state budget to provide support for future teachers through the MI Future Educator Program, which offers $10,000 annual scholarships to Michiganders studying to become teachers, as well as $9,600 per-semester stipends for student teachers. 

Another $70 million included in the latest state budget allowed the state to temporarily lower the eligibility age for the Michigan Reconnect program from 25 to 21, ultimately providing about 350,000 more Michiganders with access to tuition-free associate degrees or skills training.

To date, more than 122,000 Michiganders have enrolled in the program. And the state still has more than $90 million in grant funding available to keep growing the skilled trades workforce—including enough cash for 8,000 more registered apprentices through 2026.

Beginning next fall, it should be easier for Michigan students to get into college, too. Ten of Michigan’s 15 public universities entered into a compact in September that called for the admission of most recent high school graduates who earn a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Whitmer’s administration has also poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the state’s Going Pro Talent Fund, which was created in 2014 to assist Michigan businesses with training, developing, and retaining newly hired and current employees. Over the last nine years, the fund has trained more than 170,000 workers at over 6,000 businesses across the state, officials said.

“Lowering the cost of higher education is essential to ensuring every person can make it in Michigan,” Whitmer said in a statement provided by her office this summer. “To grow our economy and build a brighter future, we must continue investing in programs like Michigan Reconnect, Going Pro, and ​Michigan Achievement Scholarships, which are putting tens of thousands of people, especially women, on paths to support themselves and their families.”

READ MORE: 20 free college programs in Michigan that you need to know about

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Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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