April 10, 2024

Illustration showing NMC scholarship recipients and faculty

This National Community College Month, NMC has news the entire Grand Traverse region can celebrate: higher education here is more affordable to more people than ever before, including high school students.

Thanks to Michigan Reconnect, a state scholarship program intended to encourage degree or certificate completion, for the rest of this year tuition is free to county residents 21 or over who don’t already have a degree or certificate. After Nov. 15, the free tuition offer reverts to those 25 and older.

Michigan Achievement, another state scholarship specific to 2023 and 2024 high school graduates cuts the cost of their full-time tuition nearly in half. In total, NMC more than doubled the amount of state scholarship funds it awarded this year — $3.5 million — compared to $1.7 million in the 2019–20 year, before the COVID pandemic.

“These dollars go directly toward students’ tuition bills, helping them achieve their career goals as well as financial security for them and their families,” NMC President Nick Nissley said. “I am really proud of all of the new ways the state, and NMC, are working to help students make college more affordable.”

A new, lower dual-enrollment rate for high school students who live outside Grand Traverse County, plus NMC scholarships plus a plan to make those dollars more easily accessible all add up to a considerably reduced tuition burden. NMC scholarships are awarded through the generosity of local donors. This year, 1,075 students received $1.3 million in funds.

Starting next year, students will be automatically placed into the scholarship pool upon admission to NMC. Skipping a separate application requirement is expected to increase the number of students who receive scholarships. The most recent National Postsecondary Student Aid Study states that only 6 percent of public 2‐year college students receive institutional aid. NMC’s rate has been as high as 30 percent.

Helping students pay for college helps them complete college, which is the state’s ultimate goal. Reconnect and Achievement are both tactics of Michigan’s Sixty by 30 goal, which seeks to increase the percentage of Michigan adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent by 2030. Currently, 51.1 percent do.

Recent enrollment increases are also indicative of progress toward the goal. NMC’s enrollment headcount ticked up 3.3 percent this spring semester. Summer headcount is also up, while fall semester admissions are up, too.

For students interested in college who are not yet admitted, NMC is hosting Quick Start drop-in events from 4–7 p.m. Monday, April 15, Monday, May 20, and Monday, June 17. All admission tasks can be completed at the event.

For students who are admitted, online and in-person orientations are scheduled throughout spring, starting April 19. Online and in-person information sessions for dual enrollment are scheduled tonight, April 10, at 6 p.m.

“Enabling student success is truly something all NMC faculty and staff take to heart, and there’s never been a better time to be a college student,” Nissley said.