Macomb Community College offers free tuition to some students

Macomb Community College will offer free tuition to eligible students with family incomes of $70,000 or less.

The college announced the Macomb Tuition Advantage program Tuesday.

“It’s another attempt to reduce the financial barriers we know that exist for some students," college President Jim Sawyer said, adding this is an effort to "grow the college-going culture in Macomb County, and we’re really trying to incentivize completion, too. By providing additional funds and requiring full-time enrollment, we hope to increase our graduation rate as well.”

The graduation rate was 12% for students who began studies in fall 2018 and completed a program or graduated within three years, according to data posted on the college’s website. The graduation rate was 33% for credential-seeking students, including part-time students, who began their studies in fall 2015 and completed within six years.

Who's eligible?

The program is open to those already attending Macomb Community College or those who plan to start studying at the college in the fall and are pursuing an associate degree.

The person’s annual family income must be $70,000 or less, with assets of $50,000 or less. The person must be a registered student at the college and have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, according to a news release.

Students must be enrolled full time, which is a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester, and maintain a 2.0 grade point average. They must make continued progress toward an associate degree and fill out FAFSA forms each year they are eligible, according to the college's website.

More: Hope College launches program to make tuition free, requests donations after graduation

The program is renewable for up to three academic years. Federal and state grants the student is eligible for will be applied first, with the community college’s program covering the remainder of tuition and fees owed.

How many students are at the college? How many get financial aid?

Nearly 15,000 students are enrolled in the school, according to the release. About half of them, it states, would have qualified under the financial requirements of the new program. Nearly 42% of current students receive some type of financial aid.

While the median household income in Macomb County is $67,828, per the release, and the college states its tuition rate is one of the lowest among the 31 community colleges in Michigan, cost is a barrier for some.

About 28% of students receive federal Pell Grants, which usually are awarded only to undergraduates with exceptional financial need.

Sawyer said the vast majority of students at the college are from Macomb County.

Who approved the program?

Sawyer said the Macomb Community College Foundation made a commitment to provide the funds to support the program. No general funds from the college will be used.

He said the college’s Board of Trustees is supportive of the program. Sawyer said he doesn’t know how much the funds will be yet as it’s unknown how many students will take advantage of the program.

Do other colleges offer free tuition?

Yes, some do.

Wayne State University announced it March it would offer free tuition to all Michigan students whose families make under $70,000 a year.

More: Michigan launches tuition-free program for adults who are 25 and older

University of Michigan campuses in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint have free tuition and tuition support for eligible students as does Eastern Michigan University and Oakland University among others.

How do I get more info about Macomb Community College's program?

Go to

There is a link to the FAFSA form and the school’s federal school code.

How do I donate to the college foundation and support the program?

Sawyer said to go to and click on the “Give Today” link.

Contact Christina Hall: Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Free tuition for certain Macomb Community College students