Whitmer to request funding for free community college for all 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds a press conference on Jan. 27, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

By Michigan Advance

January 24, 2024

BY JON KING, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—It was an unusual way to announce a major policy priority, but using a talking potato, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday that she plans to ask lawmakers to help fund two years of free community college for all high school graduates.

The social media post featured Whitmer telling a talking spud named Professor Potato that because “every Michigander deserves an opportunity to go to college without frying their bank account,” she will use her State of the State address Wednesday night to make the request.

“Michiganders will save an average of $4,000 as they earn their associate’s degree, setting them up to earn a bachelor’s or start working and earn a bigger paycheck,” she said.

In a follow up post, sans Professor Potato, Whitmer said Michigan must find a way to prevent rising costs from interfering with people’s dreams.

“From students struggling to afford college, to parents trying to provide for their kids, to seniors saving for retirement, everyone should be able to thrive in Michigan. I’m committed to ensuring you can,” she stated.

Robert McCann, executive director of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan, welcomed the proposal as a positive step toward keeping students on track.

“Creating opportunities for students after graduation helps keep them on a path toward success prior to graduation,” McCann said. “We know that investing in our schools and our students is the single best investment we can make in Michigan. We look forward to hearing the details of the Governor’s proposal and working with the legislature on the long-term investments that will support our schools and students for generations to come.”

This latest proposal expands on Whitmer’s previous plan that temporarily lowered the qualifying age for free community college tuition under the Michigan Reconnect program from 25 to 21.

It also seeks to address a clear deficit in Michigan’s higher ed performance, in which the state ranks 49th nationally in community college completion, while almost half of Michigan’s 2022 high school graduates were not enrolled in college six months after graduating.

Whitmer’s 2024 State of the State address will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Michigan House chambers in front of a joint session of the Michigan House and Senate. It will be broadcast live throughout the state on local television channels, online at michigan.gov/StateOfTheState, as well as on Whitmer’s official Facebook andYouTube pages.

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

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license. 

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