“This year was a pivotal one in higher education investment and resource alignment by Governor Whitmer and legislators. They prioritized identifying means to elevate postsecondary education and resource allocation within the state to improve attainment outcomes and talent gaps. This was demonstrated in the $2 billion in higher education investments in FY23, a considerable increase from the year prior. We also saw the development of a new generous state scholarship opportunity, the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, and continued support to existing state aid programs. Michigan is definitely taking the steps necessary to improve access, affordability, and attainment opportunities for Michiganders.
“As a statewide policy stakeholder, working closely with education partners and advocates on the continual improvement of the systems and processes to better serve students and families, we look forward to the year ahead. Our Michigan team, at The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), has embarked on a journey to elevate community and student voice in our policy work, to uplift on-the-ground experiences and needs that impact the equitable navigation of access to and affordability of successful completion of postsecondary credentials without taking on overly burdensome debt.
“In listening to community partners and higher education advocates statewide, we’ve aligned our focuses for FY24 in the following areas to continue to move toward the student support necessary for successful completion of quality programs that lead to household financial stability.
- Support to engage non-enrolled high school graduates of 2020 – 2022 in postsecondary programs.
- Importance: The high school graduating classes of 2020 – 2022 saw the greatest disruptions to their educations leading to stark enrollment declines in higher education.
- Impact: Engaging students lost in transitional periods, for education re-entry, will help bolster their lifelong earning potential, strengthen the Michigan economy, and help get the state to its 60 by 30 attainment goal.
- Make FAFSA a high school graduation requirement and invest in resources to support completion.
- Importance: FAFSA completion greatly increases a student’s likelihood to enroll in postsecondary study, gain access to financial resources to improve affordability, and efficient utilization of state aid allocations.
- Impact: Michigan could improve FAFSA completion rates statewide, ensure assess to federal aid towards cost, increase utilization and awareness of state aid programs, and potentially improve postsecondary enrollment rates.
- Equitably expand tutoring opportunities to address learning challenges and capacity barriers contributing to student success.
- Importance: Rural communities are having a challenging time accessing current state investments in tutoring due to program design despite the resource need.
- Impact: All students will have access to extra educational support to ensure their proficiency in core concepts and skillsets for better preparation for their long-term educational pathways.
- Bridge the age gap between 2-year state aid programs: TIP (Tuition Incentive Program) and Reconnect.
- Importance: There is a gap of access to 2-year state institutional resources between TIP and Reconnect which creates an age range in which students do not qualify for either program due to the legislative rules of those respective programs.
- Impact: This will ensure students have uninterrupted access to resources that increase college affordability.
- Expand the administrative TIP fee cap of $250.
- Importance: Eligible two-year TIP programs include required institutional fees as high as $1,613 per year, but TIP support to cover such fees is capped at $250.
- Impact: Expanding TIP’s coverage of fees will also expand access to and affordability of high-demand programs, including those with the highest fees such as Nursing.
- Adjust the Michigan Achievement Scholarship as needed.
- Importance: With this newly designed program it will be important to address any barriers to access early on to ensure the intended effectiveness of the program in the years to come.
- Impact: Optimizing program design and implementation of MAS will support the goal of strengthening and aligning existing state aid programs to increase enrollment and completion and reduce student debt.
- Invest in intensive wrap around support to students for completion.
- Importance: Intensive support for students has been shown to increase college completion rates by connecting them with the necessary resources to thrive in higher education.
- Impact: Michigan institutions and educational programs could improve their completion rates, bolstering the workforce and getting the state closer to its 60 by 30 attainment goal.
- Improve housing resources for community college students.
- Importance: Many Michigan community colleges do not provide housing on campus which creates a barrier for students experiencing housing insecurity, enrolling, and succeeding in their educational pursuits.
- Impact: Providing affordable, sustainable, and consistent housing for students at community colleges will create stable learning environments to bolster student success.
- Improve stackable postsecondary credential pathways and programs.
- Importance: Currently, there is a push into entry level credential attainment but significant to advancing to completing higher level credentials remain.
- Impact: Improving accessibility and navigation of and between pathways will help students better understand their educational options and break down barriers to continued education and expanding opportunities to more stable, financially secure employment.
“Administrative changes and targeted investments in the areas above will help align Michigan’s financial aid programs and pathways to more effectively achieve the state’s goal of 60% attainment by 2030, setting the state up for a strong long-term economic success.”