November 16, 2023
New state scholarship dollars could cut tuition in half or more for eight short-course NMC health care programs, all in high hiring demand and some offering signing bonuses at Munson Healthcare.
In January, skills/short term training programs including practical nurse, phlebotomy technician, pharmacy technician, eldercare certificate, medical assistant, hemodialysis technician, medical coding and billing and medical scribe will become eligible for funding from two existing scholarships, Michigan Achievement and Michigan Reconnect.
The Michigan Achievement Skills scholarship offers up to $2,000 per year for two years to 2023 high school graduates. The Michigan Reconnect short-term training program offers $1,500 to students 21 and over who don’t already have a college degree.
Gina Stein, Munson Healthcare manager of talent acquisitions operations, said the region’s largest employer welcomes the new scholarships.
“There’s a lot of competition for the current workforce,” she said. “Anything we can do to provide additional scholarships or tuition reimbursement would be key.” Tuition reimbursement is available for benefited roles at Munson, which start at 20 hours. The Reconnect funds could also help entice former healthcare workers who retired or left during Covid to return in new roles, she said.
Elizabeth Sonnabend, program manager for NMC Extended Education and Training, said enrollments in the programs could increase significantly. State funding has dwindled since 2020–21, when 72 students were enrolled, almost triple current numbers.
“I expect these numbers will go up for 2024 again, now that students can get the majority of the costs covered,” she said. Tuition for most of the eligible programs ranges between $1,800-$,3800.
The newly-eligible programs also align with NMC’s strategic goal of offering more courses and credentials in short formats as well as online, which both employers and students say they need. The medical coding and billing and medical scribe programs are completely online. Except for Practical Nursing and Eldercare, coursework for the other four programs is offered online, prior to an in-person externship. Most programs are self-paced and require 300–600 hours to complete. Tuition covers access for a year.
Also in 2024, eligible students ages 21-24 will begin receiving reimbursement for a portion of this fall’s tuition and fees. Last month, Michigan Reconnect temporarily expanded its age eligibility to 21 and up. Some 70 NMC students have already applied to take advantage of it. An additional 29 potential new students have applied. The 21- to 24-year-old cohort has until November 15, 2024, to apply for Reconnect before it reverts to its original 25 and older age requirement.
“The money is there, waiting to go to you to support students,” said Sarah Szurpicki of Office of Sixty by 30, urging students to apply. That office oversees Michigan Reconnect and Achievement, which both were created to help reach the goal of 60 percent of Michiganders earning a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2030. It now stands at 50.5 percent.
In fall 2023, NMC disbursed $1.7 million in aid programs administered by the State of Michigan and $1.9 million in federal Pell grants. With the expansion of Reconnect to ages 21–24 expansion, it seems likely that state aid could top Pell grants by the end of the year.