Wayne State to offer cost-free degree to low-income families

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined Wayne State University officials to announce a new initiative offering incoming Michigan students with family incomes of $70,000 or less a tuition-free degree.

The program will begin in the fall of 2023 and cover the full cost of tuition and standard fees. The program is possible through the Michigan Achievement Scholarship program, which Whitmer signed into law in 2022.

“Students in Michigan deserve the opportunity to receive quality, affordable higher education,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I’m proud to work with universities across the state to lower the cost of college for Michigan students and help them gain the skills to be prepared for the new and expanding businesses coming to the state. Last year, almost half of first-year students at Wayne State University had zero out-of-pocket expenses, with this initiative, the university is offering that opportunity to even more students.”

Eligibility requirements include:

Incoming first-year undergraduates who are Michigan residents admitted for fall 2023 as a first-time undergraduate in a degree program.Household income of $70,000 or less and assets of $50,000 or less as confirmed on the 2023-24 FAFSA.Michigan residents must be eligible for the Pell grant in 2023-24 are also eligible.Students must be enrolled full-time (12 or more credit hours per semester) each semester. Funding is for fall and winter semesters.WSU must receive 2023-24 FAFSAs by April 1, 2023, and potential students must be eligible to receive federal student aid.Students must be admitted to WSU by April 1, 2023.

The program aims to fulfill Whitmer’s plan to ensure 60% of Michiganders receive a skill certificate or college degree by 2030. Michigan’s uneducated labor force is perceived to be a large barrier to businesses locating in Michigan.

The program will save students up to $8,250 on their associate degree at a community college, up to $20,000 at a private college, or up to $27,500 at a public university.

“Wayne State has a long history of being a university of access and opportunity, and now our commitment to making a college degree affordable comes in the form of a guarantee,” Wayne State University President Roy M. Wilson said in a statement. “We are excited to expand the opportunity for an affordable, world-class education to more Warriors.”

The Wayne State Guarantee covers the full cost of tuition and standard fees (matriculation, registration, and student service fees) with a combination of federal, state, and other WSU scholarships and grants. The award is renewable for up to four years, with the option to apply for a fifth year if the student is on track to graduate in that year.

Wayne State provides more than $350 million in financial aid annually.

“Too many students and their families don’t think college is an option because they think it’s too expensive,” Wayne State University Provost Mark Kornbluh said in a statement. “However, I think they would be surprised. Wayne State has the lowest tuition of Michigan’s three major research universities, robust financial aid programs, and we work very hard to make attending one of the top research universities in the country extremely affordable.”

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