Lawmakers aim to make community college debt-free

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — – Democratic state lawmakers announced new legislation that, if passed, could see the state pay for community college for Michigan residents.

At a press conference Monday morning, Reps. Sam Singh, Adam Zemke and Sherry Gay-Dagnogo announced the “HirED Opportunity Act,” which would provide scholarships for recent high school graduates and those looking to change careers or get more training.

The “Community College Opportunity Scholarship” would be available to recent high school grads after they fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). Those eligible for the scholarship would have to:

  • Be enrolled in a Michigan community college full-time
  • Complete mentorship and community service programs
  • Maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher

Elijah Boatley, an incoming Lansing Community College student, said he hopes the proposed bill is passed into law, saying it would be huge for him and his family.

“I didn’t really have too many options, and now that i’m doing better for myself, being in debt would inda feel like going back to the same place,” he said. “It would mean a lot, because then I could put my brothers through high school and college.”

Rep. Singh said the estimated cost of the proposal is $400 million. Lawmakers say they already have the money for it, and added some of the money would be reallocated from Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed “Marshall Plan for Talent.” Singh said “HirED” would replace the governor’s plan.

“It makes the Marshall Plan pale in comparison,” Singh said. “Because we’re talking about every young person who wants to attempt this will have the opportunity.”

Lawmakers anticipate the bill will be introduced in the State House of Representatives later this week.