GVSU rolls out program to assist in Whitmer’s post-high school initiative

    Grand Valley State University | Susan J. Demas

    In response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan for 60% of Michigan residents to obtain a post-secondary certificate or degree by the year 2030, Grand Valley State University announced a new program to help make that happen.

    GVSU President Philomena Mantella introduced on Wednesday the 19-month accelerated program to assist adults in completing their bachelor’s degrees.

    The program allows students to get a degree in integrative studies, formally known as liberal studies, while also earning certification in leadership, applied data analytics, project management or global communication. 

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    GVSU will reimburse the cost of the first course to make paying for future courses more affordable. 

    “GVSU has taken into account the needs of adult learners; this program was built with students in mind,” Whitmer said while visiting GVSU on Tuesday.

    Whitmer said the university’s accelerated degree program is a critical step that fits with the 60-30 initiative.

    During her State of the State address in January, Whitmer called her plan to increase the number of adults with postsecondary credentials by 2030 “aggressive.”

    “We need to start thinking differently about what it takes to succeed,” Whitmer said during her speech. “We used to think about careers in terms of ladders — one way up. But today, it’s more like rock climbing. There are many paths to a good life, and we need to help people find the one that works for them.”

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    In 2019, Whitmer rolled out her Michigan Reconnect plan, which would pay for tuition for students older than 25 who are already in the workforce  to get associate degrees or certificates for in-demand fields. For Fiscal Year 2021, she wants $35 million for the program.

    The governor’s budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 2021 includes a tuition restraint provision in the community college budget to limit annual tuition and fee increases, which is intended to slow down the costs of the Reconnect Program. 

    GVSU’s accelerated program offers six-week online classes, with two on-campus visits to any of the university’s four locations. The program is designed for students older than 24 who have at least two years of work experience and at least 30 earned college credits. 

    Mantella said the university has plans to expand upon the accelerated program to offer more degrees and certificates in high-demand areas like computer science, cybersecurity, health and education. 

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.