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Michigan high schoolers will be able to attend a local community college without paying tuition starting next fall. 

The Michigan Legislature approved funding for the new plan, which allows high school graduates to earn an associate’s degree or certificate at an in-district community college, last month as part of the state’s $19 billion school aid budget for fiscal year 2025. 

It marks the realization of a goal Governor Gretchen Whitmer laid out during her 2024 State of the State address, WXYZ, Detroit’s ABC affiliate, reported.  “In our next budget, let’s make the first two years of community college in Michigan tuition free for every high school graduate,” she said back in January. 

The plan, which is expected to save more than 18,000 students up to $4,800 a year each, will “ensure every Michigan high school graduate can earn an associate degree or skills certificate tuition-free at their community college,” Whitmer said in a news release Tuesday. “Across our state, more Michiganders are going back to school and getting the skills they need for high-skilled, better-paying jobs.”

Making community college free for high school graduates is the latest initiative designed to help Michigan achieve its broader “Sixty by Thirty” goal, which aims to have at least 60 percent of residents earn a degree or certificate by 2030. Currently, 51 percent of Michigan adults have such a credential, according to the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential.

In 2021, the state launched Michigan Reconnect, a last-dollar program that covers tuition for an associate degree or skills certificate in high-demand careers for students over 25 who don’t already have a college degree. Last year, the state temporarily lowered the age of eligibility to 21.