Michigan Budget Includes Tuition-Free Pre-K and Community College

Gretchen Whitmer
by Carly Moran


The recently passed Michigan budget would guarantee tuition-free community college for all residents, and expands access to tuition-free preschool.

The tuition-free community college program is paid for by $330 million in taxpayer dollars, an increase of $30 million from last year. The new program gets rid of income caps, so any student can receive free tuition at an in-district community college.

The Community College Guarantee builds off an existing Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which provides up to $2,750 a year for a community college, $4,000 a year for a private college or $5,500 a year for a public university. All pell grant recipients will receive an additional $1,000 per year regardless of the college, and all private college students can now receive up to $5,500 in aid.

While the $23.4 billion education spending plan does not fulfill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s goal of universal free preschool, the budget is 3.5% smaller than last year’s $24.3 billion education budget.

The Great Start Readiness Plan allows for free preschool to any family at or below 400% of the federal poverty line, meaning families making up to $124,800 per year could qualify. If additional spots remain open, then families making more than that per year could also qualify.

About 5,000 kids could benefit per year, according to the House Fiscal Agency. If universally free pre-K had passed, an additional 1,800 children would have qualified.

Families interested in enrolling their children in the program need proof of age, income verification, proof of residency, and custody documentation if applicable.

Both the free community college and pre-K programs are a part of the 2025 fiscal year budget passed by the House in the early hours of June 27. The education budget passed along party lines 56-54 in the house and 20-18 in the senate, with the Democratic majority approving the bill.

House Republicans expressed concerns over the spending after pandemic surpluses have been depleted.

“It’s just an extremely unwise and reckless move,” state Senator Thomas Albert, R-Lowell said. “It is in no way necessary to maintain the central programs, and it makes no financial sense.”

The $23.4 billion education budget is just a portion of the $82.5 billion statewide budget approved last week. Whitmer is expected to sign the budget soon.

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Carly Moran is an intern reporter for The Center Square.
Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by Office of the President CC BY 2.0. Background Photo “Middle Michigan Community College” by rossograph CC BY-SA 4.0.

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