Thousands of Michigan residents took action toward reaching their educational goals when the State of Michigan announced the Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs. And a new UM-Dearborn initiative gives these learners what they need to take their degree even further.
Focus on the Finish expands upon the statewide scholarship programs by providing financial assistance, academic support, flexible timelines and career development for Frontliners or Reconnect students who are interested in earning a four-year degree once they complete an associate degree.
“We always welcome new Wolverines, but these students are extraordinary. They’ve supported our state at a critical time. They are adults who juggle many responsibilities, yet they are still carving out time for their education,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Sue Alcock. “We want to recognize their dedication by providing the support that will help them succeed in meeting their goals. It’s more than earning a degree — education is a transformative experience that impacts not just them as individuals, but their families and communities as well.”
Designed with working students in mind, Focus on the Finish is:
Flexible. Understanding the work and family responsibilities many people have, program participants can be enrolled full-time or part time. Students are eligible for the program for up to six semesters across three years.
Focused on goals. Each participant receives customized career development support to help reach post-graduation goals, and academic and financial aid advising to stay confident and on-track with their chosen degree program.
UM-Dearborn is committed to funding (from all sources) for qualified students that equates to:
- Guaranteeing 60% of tuition funded by scholarships and grants for all Pell-eligible students and for non-Pell-eligible students with a 3.5 transfer GPA or higher
- Guaranteeing 30% of tuition funded by scholarships and grants for non-Pell-eligible students with a 3.49 transfer GPA or below
Criteria for the Focus on the Finish program includes associate degree completion, ability to meet campus requirements for admission, proof of participation in the Frontliners or Reconnect program, and Michigan residency as defined by the University of Michigan.
“UM-Dearborn has designed this initiative to fit the needs of the students, focusing particularly on the fact that they may not be able to study full-time continuously throughout their degree program,” said Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Melissa Stone. “If students can go full time, that’s fantastic. But if someone needs to take a break for a semester, that’s ok too — it doesn’t disqualify them from the scholarship. It’s a key differentiator of our Focus on the Finish program. Our campus understands the needs of working adults and students who may be the first in their families to go to college.”
With a large percentage of working adults and first-generation students on UM-Dearborn’s campus, the Focus on the Finish program was developed by faculty and staff who regularly work with these populations or were return-to-school learners themselves.
Helping people reach their goals is a primary focus, but there is also a collective good that this initiative hopes to accomplish:Supporting the State of Michigan’s goal of increasing the number of credentialed working-age adults to 60% by 2030. Many in Michigan have taken college courses without completing a college degree. With a graduation rate average of 45 percent, the State of Michigan lags behind the national six-year graduation average of 62 percent.
Chancellor Domenico Grasso said UM-Dearborn plays a major role in connecting Michigan’s industry with qualified individuals and wants to continue strengthening the state’s talent pipeline.
“Nearly 90% of our graduates stay in Michigan following their time here — UM-Dearborn plays a key role in educating the workforce of southeast Michigan and providing critical talent for the region’s business and industry,” Grasso said. “This program is an opportunity to put our mission into action — transforming the lives of Michigan students for the better while simultaneously meeting the needs of our state for a knowledgeable and talented 21st-century workforce.”
The state wants to close the skills gap that currently exists between Michigan’s workforce and employer needs, increase opportunity for better jobs and bigger paychecks and make Michigan more competitive for inclusive economic growth.
In addition to Focus on the Finish, campus initiatives like Dearborn Comeback — which is for returning Wolverines — also complements Michigan’s Sixty by 30 alliance.
“UM-Dearborn remains committed to supporting student success and providing access and opportunity for highly qualified, talented and motivated students who may otherwise lack the financial resources to attend college,” Grasso said. “After graduation, these students will become leaders and their UM-Dearborn preparation will serve them well in devising holistic solutions to complex issues.”