Free Community College in Michigan: A Guide

Free Community College in Michigan: A Guide
Campus is the new alternative to online community college that provides a 100% live and online Associate of Arts in Business Administration degree program. We’re on a mission to maximize access to a world-class education, starting with our career-focused business program that equips students from across the U.S. with a solid foundation in core business principles to set them up for success no matter what their next step is.

One of the benefits of education is that it guides you in developing more critical thinking, expands your general knowledge, and helps you make better-informed decisions. Now, having access to education guarantees that these benefits are within reach for everyone.

In the U.S., there are a number of free community college programs today. Michigan leads the way in providing tuition-free community college opportunities, ensuring that higher education is accessible to all residents. Online community colleges in Michigan have also played a significant role in expanding access to education, complementing the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. Sometimes people say they are “tuition-free,” meaning you can attend classes without out-of-pocket costs for classes.

Accessible education through free community college programs in Michigan empowers students to pursue their academic and career goals without financial barriers. With this wider access to education, students can complete their degrees, and this helps them find potentially higher-paying job opportunities and significantly contribute to their families and society in various ways. Michigan's free community college initiatives, combined with the availability of online community colleges in Michigan, open up avenues for students to pursue their academic and career aspirations without the burden of tuition fees.

In this article, we'll explore the tuition-free community college opportunities in Michigan, the eligibility criteria, and how Michigan residents can access higher education without the burden of tuition fees.

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Free Community College in Michigan: Michigan Reconnect

Michigan Reconnect is an initiative in Michigan that gives eligible Michiganders financial aid to start an associate degree or occupational certificate. Michigan Reconnect, along with the accessibility offered by online community colleges in Michigan, presents a comprehensive approach to empowering individuals to pursue higher education regardless of their financial circumstances. It balances the in-district tuition and mandatory fees payment after other federal and state financial aid has been considered.

However, students who attend out-of-district community colleges can receive a considerable tuition discount, too. When it comes to Michigan community colleges, the average tuition is $3,570 per year for in-state students and $6,750 for out-of-state students.

Similarly, online community colleges in Michigan ensure that students have access to quality education without the constraints of geographical location or commute, further democratizing the learning experience. The Michigan Reconnect program ensures that when you get your semester bill from the community college, the following will be free to you:

  • In-district tuition
  • Mandatory fees (enrollment fees, fees charged per semester or per hour)
  • In-demand programs/ contact hours (extra charges for specific programs/ courses)

However, these funds do NOT cover:

  • Out-of-state tuition (the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates)
  • Application and graduation/commencement fees
  • Non-mandatory fees (lab fees, course-specific fees, services, or extracurricular activities)
  • Books and supplies

The state of Michigan funds Michigan Reconnect with $30 million to cover tuition costs and mandatory fees after the distribution of federal Pell Grants. Additionally, the availability of free community college in Michigan, including online options, demonstrates the state's commitment to investing in the educational advancement of its residents. In just the first three weeks of Michigan Reconnect’s launch, 46,000 people applied!

Michigan's tuition-free community college initiatives also became so popular that four-year universities began to announce their own tuition-free programs as well. As the demand for accessible education grows, online community colleges in Michigan continue to innovate and expand their offerings to cater to a diverse range of learners across the state. The success of Michigan's free community college initiatives has spurred other educational institutions to follow suit, demonstrating the impact of accessible education on society. The availability of free community college in Michigan, both traditional and online, underscores the transformative power of education in shaping individuals' lives and driving societal progress.

Eligibility Criteria & How to Apply

To be eligible for Michigan Reconnect, you must:

  • Have lived in Michigan for at least one year
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent (e.g. GED)
  • Be no younger than 25 years old when you apply
  • Have not yet earned a bachelor's or associate degree
  • Be eligible to submit the FAFSA

Here’s how to apply:

  1. Apply to the community college of interest: After confirming program eligibility, explore the list of participating community colleges (any public community college in Michigan) and submit your application to your choice. You may need to check off some boxes to indicate your intent to participate in the scholarship. Again, your tuition is only totally free if you are an in-district student.
  2. Complete the short Michigan Reconnect application: This can be completed online right here.
  3. Submit the FAFSA: Complete the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid.
  4. Register in an eligible program: Once accepted by the community college and informed of your eligibility for the Reconnect scholarship, register in a suitable associate degree or certificate program.

Michigan Achievement Scholarship Program

The Michigan Achievement Scholarship (MAS) is a state scholarship offered to Michigan high school graduates in 2023 or later who have obtained a diploma, certificate of completion, or high school equivalency.

Starting with the class of 2023, the MAS program per student per year offers up to

  • $2,750 for those attending a Michigan community college
  • $4,000 for those attending a Michigan private college or university
  • $5,500 for those attending any of Michigan's 15 public universities

The scholarships are renewable for up to three years at a Michigan community college, meaning a current maximum of $8,250.

This scholarship paired with additional aid can help many students earn their first degree at a much more affordable out-of-pocket cost, if any. With this scholarship, you can go to community college first then transfer if you’re interested in continuing your education at a university.

For a comprehensive guide on how to pay for community college, check out our latest article.

Eligibility Criteria & How to Apply

To be eligible for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, you must

  • Be a Michigan high school graduate or earn a high school equivalency in 2023 or after
  • Have full-time enrollment (12 credit hours per semester) in a degree program at an eligible Michigan college within 15 months of graduating high school
  • Be a Michigan resident for at least a year (or since July 1 of the previous year)
  • File the FAFSA and reflect financial need with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC, as determined by the FAFSA) of $25,000 or less

To determine your eligibility, you need to create a MiSSG Student Portal account. The MiSSG Student Portal allows Michigan students to manage their state aid applications and can be created after 3-5 business days of submitting the FAFSA.

To set up your account for the MAS:

  1. Visit the MiSSG Student Portal website
  2. Click on "Create Account” and fill out the required information
  3. Check for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship

Once you’re able, log into your account and search for MAS among the available scholarships and grant programs.

Frontliners in masks at a hospital
The Futures for Frontliners program benefited thousands of individuals in Michigan who worked during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Previous Free Community College Efforts in Michigan

Futures for Frontliners (F4F) was a scholarship program exclusive for Michiganders with no college degrees who worked during the state COVID-19 shutdown in essential industries between (April 1 - June 30, 2020).

This scholarship awarded free tuition to community colleges to this group of people, enabling them to pursue a skills certificate or an associate degree. Unfortunately, applications for the program have since closed.

At the end of 2020, there were 73,403 Futures for Frontliners applications. Here’s a quick breakdown of who participated:

  • In total, 69.39% of applicants were women and 30.18% were men
  • Of the Frontliners who had already had a high school diploma (or equivalent): 60% were White, 25% were Black, 5% were Latinx, and 1% were Asian
  • Frontliners who needed to complete a high school diploma (or equivalent) - 42% were White, 42% were Black, 6% were Latinx, and 1% were Asian

As you can see, free community college programs are incredibly popular. If you’re eligible, be sure to submit your application and join the ranks of fellow Michiganders furthering their education.

Considering Community College?

Community colleges have evolved to become crucial paths for those searching for practical and relevant education. They provide two-year degrees, transfer programs, and certification programs so you can get as much education as you need to launch a career in the industry of your choice.

Michigan's commitment to offering free community college opportunities reflects a broader trend of prioritizing accessible education for all. Initiatives like the Michigan Reconnect, and other scholarship programs show how institutions and governments have recognized the value of education and tried to ease the financial burden by making college education more affordable for aspiring learners.

So, if you're considering taking a step toward your academic and career goals, take the time to research free community college options available in your state. Whether you prefer the flexibility of online learning or the traditional classroom experience, free community college options in Michigan provide a pathway for you to pursue your educational aspirations without financial constraints.

Connect with your local community colleges, visit their websites, and inquire about scholarship and financial aid options. Your educational journey is unique, and the resources are there to help you thrive!

At Campus, we have an online associate degree in a business program where tuition is below the maximum Federal Pell Grant award. Michigan residents seeking flexible educational options can explore online community colleges in Michigan, such as our program at Campus, which offers affordable tuition options and additional support for students. So, students who receive the full Pell would have no out-of-pocket tuition costs if they enroll. Campus also provides a free laptop, WIFI access as needed, and free e-textbook access to keep costs low. Request more info to learn more.

Want to learn more about Campus?

Our admissions advisors can answer your questions.