SMC boosts scholarships by more than 60 percent

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College recently boosted scholarships to make higher education more affordable.

SMC offered $880,000 in the 2021 budget, hiking that 62 percent to $1,433,610 for 2022.

With the SMC Guarantee, all new students enrolling in fall 2021 classes receive a scholarship of at least $600. In-district students (Cass County plus Van Buren County’s Keeler and Hamilton townships) qualify for at least $1,000.

By eliminating some college cost burdens the pandemic exacerbated, SMC can improve degree attainment and, ultimately, area economic prosperity.

“In our district a person with an associate degree or certificate earns a median wage of over $30,000 after a year, while a high school graduate earns a median wage of just $14,000. After five years the gap widens even more,” said SMC President Dr. Joe Odenwald.

The SMC Guarantee is designed to help students who have not been to college in the last five years, since fall 2016 — recent high school graduates, adults returning to complete their degrees after time in the workforce, transfers who have never attended SMC and college first-timers of any age.

“If you have ever considered continuing your education beyond high school and setting up a brighter future for you and your family, now is the time,” said Vice President for Institutional Advancement Mike O’Brien. “We have in-person and online options in over 40 majors to get you started, and our faculty and staff will do everything they can to help students be successful.”

Scholarships were also enhanced for current students by funding more Green to Gold scholarships

“All of our Academic Achievement Awards are renewable for two years,” Financial Aid Director Lauren Mow said.

  • For 2021, SMC distributed an average of $3,650 to 821 students through federal Pell grants.
  • Another federal source which helped lighten the financial burden was the pandemic-related Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, for which the college distributed $1.5 million to current students.
  • Michigan Reconnect, a state program, offers free community-college tuition to qualifying residents 25 and older who have lived in Michigan for a year or more, have a high school diploma and have not yet completed either an associate or bachelor’s degree.
  • There were 145 students who earned approximately $360,000 while gaining work experience in Fiscal Year 2021. The college budgeted $500,000 for student workers, but many departments had a difficult time filling positions due to COVID.

Application for admission to SMC is free, does not require test scores or essays and can be completed at swmich.edu/admissions/apply.

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