Michigan ReconnectMichigan Reconnect

Michigan Reconnect is a scholarship program that provides tuition-free college opportunities for Michigan residents over the age of 25. The program covers the cost of tuition and mandatory fees for eligible adults to earn an associate degree or skill certificate at their local Michigan community college or approved training programs.

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Proper preparation is key to successfully applying for, enrolling in, and completing a program through Michigan Reconnect. This guide will walk you through all the steps you need to take to prepare for Michigan exams and apply for the Michigan Reconnect scholarship program.

Complete the FAFSA Application

The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Submitting the FAFSA is mandatory for all Michigan Reconnect participants.

To complete the FAFSA application, you will need:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your federal income tax returns and W-2s
  • Your bank statements and investment records (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • Alien registration number, if you are not a U.S. citizen

The FAFSA application opens on October 1 for the following academic year. You can complete the application online at fafsa.gov. Be sure to include the Federal School Code for the community college you plan to attend.

Completing this application ensures you will receive the maximum amount of financial aid available from federal and state sources.

Check Your Eligibility

To qualify for Michigan Reconnect, applicants must meet several eligibility criteria:

  • You must be at least 25 years old when you apply
  • You must have been a Michigan resident for at least 12 consecutive months prior to application
  • You must possess a high school diploma, certificate of completion, or GED/high school equivalency certificate
  • You must not currently hold an associate or bachelor’s degree (with limited exceptions)
  • Non-U.S. citizens must provide required documentation of immigration/citizenship status

In addition, all participants must complete the FAFSA application and apply for admission to an eligible community college or approved training program.

If you meet these criteria, congratulations! You pre-qualify for Michigan’s tuition-free Reconnect program.

Submit Your High School Transcripts

The next step is to submit your high school transcript to the community college you plan to attend. This allows the college to validate you have completed high school and met the eligibility requirements.

If you graduated from a Michigan high school, you can order official transcripts through Parchment.com for a $3.25 fee. Be sure to select electronic delivery for fastest processing.

For graduates of out-of-state high schools, contact your high school records office to order official sealed transcripts sent to your community college.

Submitting transcripts early allows time for processing before classes begin.

Research and Apply to Community College Programs

With your eligibility verified, the next step is finding the right program for your goals and interests. Michigan Reconnect covers tuition and fees for qualifying certificate programs and associate degree programs at in-district Michigan community colleges.

You can research programs and apply for your preferred community college through the MiCAN portal at MiCAN.org. This single application allows you to apply to multiple colleges at once.

If you already have college credits, also submit your college transcript to see if any credits may transfer into your program.

Be sure to apply early and enroll immediately once accepted to secure your Michigan Reconnect funding.

Complete Orientation and Meet with an Advisor

Orientation sessions introduce you to key contacts, resources, and information to launch your college journey. Most community colleges provide an online orientation you can complete remotely.

You will also meet with an academic advisor who can review your career interests, academic history, and program options to help put together an academic plan. Bring any college transcripts, assessment test scores, and documents that can facilitate this process.

An advisor can help you:

  • Clarify career goals
  • Select an academic program
  • Understand program requirements
  • Map out course sequence
  • Learn about transfer options after completing your certificate or degree

Their support is invaluable for college success, so develop this important connection early on.

Register for Classes

With your program selected and mapped out, now comes time for the exciting part – picking classes!

Use your program plan like a checklist, registering for the required courses appropriate for your skill level and availability during each new semester. Meet with your advisor if you need any guidance selecting courses.

Some key tips when registering:

  • Mix difficult courses with lighter courseloads
  • Balance academics with other responsibilities
  • Review course prerequisites and restrictions
  • Confirm modality (in-person, online, hybrid, etc)
  • Verify tuition is covered under Reconnect program

Registration deadlines vary by college, generally 30-45 days before the new semester starts. Register on time to get the courses you need.

Develop Key Study Skills

While community college courses remain focused on practical, hands-on learning, you still need to develop effective study habits to retain course material.

Some tips for community college success include:

  • Take detailed notes during class lectures and readings
  • Review notes thoroughly shortly after each class
  • Attend professor office hours with any questions
  • Create summaries and flashcards of key concepts
  • Organize assignments, notes, readings in online or physical folders by class
  • Map out project timeline milestones for large assignments
  • Leverage campus academic support like tutoring, writing labs

Also important – create a regular study routine and space to keep yourself accountable.

Leverage Campus Support Resources

Community colleges offer a full range of student support services to set you up for success:

Academic Support

  • Tutoring in math, writing, sciences and more
  • Learning labs for research and writing
  • Advising for program selection, course planning, troubleshooting
  • Disability services including accommodations and assistive technology

Basic Needs & Emergency Aid

  • Food pantries, housing assistance, transportation access
  • Emergency funding for unexpected crises
  • Public benefits screening to access state & federal programs

Personal Support

  • Counseling/mental health services
  • Veteran & military student services
  • Single-parent supports like childcare, tuition assistance
  • Foster youth assistance navigating college transition

Tap into these supports early and often. They exist to help you overcome challenges and stay on track to complete your Reconnect degree.

Plan Your Transfer Options Early

For those completing associate degrees with the goal of transferring to pursue a bachelor’s degree, planning your transfer pathway from the start helps ensure a smoother transition.

Work with your academic advisor to:

  • Research transfer requirements for your bachelor’s program and major
  • Select associate degree courses that directly transfer
  • Identify prerequisite courses to complete
  • Maintain strong grades for admission eligibility
  • Research application timelines for your transfer university

Some universities offer special transfer partnerships with guaranteed admission for associate degree holders. Finding the right fit can make transferring your credits and pursuing further education simple.

Conclusion

The Michigan Reconnect program removes the financial barrier to make earning a tuition-free degree or skill certificate truly accessible for adult learners.

While costs are covered, participants do need to begin preparing early – completing the FAFSA, requesting transcripts, applying for programs, mapping out courses with an advisor, and registering for classes on time.

Leveraging all the support services community colleges offer also helps students balance school, work, and family while advancing their education. Planning future transfer pathways from the start further maximizes the long-term value.

With some planning and dedication, Michigan Reconnect provides an empowering opportunity to upskill, enrich your knowledge, and open up new career potential – no student debt required. Take advantage of this life-changing chance to invest in yourself through higher education.

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