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Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) moves to support Gov. Whitmer’s education goal

Posted: 8:14 AM, Jul 16, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-16 08:14:31-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan College Access Network’s (MCAN) board of directors has moved to align their primary goal to support Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s statewide postsecondary education goal, voting to adopt that 60 percent of Michigan residents complete a postsecondary certificate or degree by the year 2030. MCAN looks forward to continued partnerships with the Governor and her administration to address a growing talent shortage in the state’s workforce.

“I’ve listened to business owners across the state and the most resounding concern is finding top talent,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “I have also talked to families, and they are worried about how to pay for their children to go to college. The skills gap and college affordability pose serious challenges, and my ‘60 by 30’ plan makes a critical connection between furthering the education of Michigan’s residents and our state’s economic vitality. If residents are willing to put in the work, they should have a path to earn a postsecondary credential and build a life here in Michigan.”

In an effort to cultivate a more educated workforce, Gov. Whitmer proposed two new programs aimed at addressing barriers to postsecondary education. The Michigan Opportunity Initiative would provide graduating high school students with two years of postsecondary education at a community college toward a certificate or an associate degree, debt-free. For students meeting certain criteria including GPA and financial need, the Michigan Opportunity Initiative would provide up to $2,500 toward a four-year degree a year for up to two years at a not-for-profit, four-year university. The Governor’s second proposal, the Michigan Reconnect Grant, would help adults obtain an associate degree and industry-recognized certificates or credentials, debt-free.

“Gov. Whitmer’s education priorities supporting Michigan students are an essential next step to address the state’s talent gap,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, Michigan College Access Network interim executive director. “MCAN’s board voted to support the Governor’s bold vision of 60 percent postsecondary attainment by 2030 because the research makes it clear that college is a necessity in today’s workforce and economy. Michigan currently ranks sixth in the country for highest family share of college expenses and 32nd in the amount of state need-based aid. We would like to flip those statistics.”

Michigan was the only state in the Midwest, and one of just nine states in the country, to not have an established state goal until the Governor’s announcement.

Michigan’s postsecondary attainment rate has increased from 36 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2019. MCAN supports statewide and local efforts to expand education beyond high school in Michigan using a strategic plan that will 1) foster a college-going culture, 2) identify multiple postsecondary education pathways and facilitate smooth transitions, 3) improve college affordability, and 4) support credential completion.

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