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GRCC’s Jason McKelvey pursues tuition-free business degree through Michigan Reconnect

July 10, 2024

Jason McKelvey knew he wanted a business degree. He just never imagined he could get it for

McKelvey got the good news this spring when he enrolled at Grand Rapids Community College.
The 25-year-old discovered he qualified for the Michigan Reconnect program, the largest effort
in state history to ensure eligible Michiganders without a college degree have an opportunity to
earn a no or low-cost associate degree or occupational certificate.

Since launching three years ago, Michigan Reconnect has helped more than 150,000
Michiganders pursue the additional education that leads to rewarding careers and higher

Originally only available to adults aged 25 and older, the state-funded program was expanded
to adults ages 21 to 24 who apply by Nov. 15, 2024.

“It’s a super cool program if you’re looking to get back into school,” said McKelvey, who lives in
downtown Grand Rapids.

It’s the hope of advancement at CapTrust Financial in Grand Rapids that prompted McKelvey to
return to college. Now in client services at the wealth management firm, McKelvey hopes to
one day become a financial advisor there.

The next step in that journey, though, requires a bachelor’s degree.

McKelvey is no stranger to college. After graduating in 2017 from Forest Hills Central High
School, he studied marketing for two years at Western Michigan University before deciding to
leave college when the pandemic started.

“Looking back on it, I think I was losing a little interest in marketing and figured maybe it wasn’t
the career path that I really wanted to pursue,” he said.

He eventually returned to Grand Rapids and landed the job at CapTrust. This spring, he met
with a GRCC enrollment specialist to see about taking a few accounting, finance and general
education courses.

That’s when he learned about Michigan Reconnect.

“After talking to an advisor at GRCC, it made more sense to go ahead and get my associate
degree in business at GRCC rather than just taking a few classes,” he said. “From there, I plan to
transfer to Grand Valley State University and get a bachelor’s degree in finance.”

For now, McKelvey works full-time and is taking two online accounting classes this summer at

He says he likes his accounting class so far and looks forward to attaining his business degree at

“I’m excited to be back in school and learning,” McKelvey said.

This story was reported by Beth McKenna.