Detroit Regional Chamber > Education & Talent > Want to Get Into UM? There’s a New Program for That

Want to Get Into UM? There’s a New Program for That

October 25, 2022

The Detroit News
Oct. 24, 2022
Kim Kozlowski

Dearborn — Students who never thought they’d be able to earn a degree from the University of Michigan now have the chance.

Officials unveiled a new program on Monday for Henry Ford College students who have earned an associate degree, guaranteeing them admission into UM-Dearborn for a bachelor’s degree.

Known as Learn4ward, officials called it a unique partnership that will increase opportunities for students, contribute to the state’s future economy and could be a model for other institutional collaborations in the future.

For students, the opportunity is more personal, said Mark Robey, a 61-year-old Dearborn Heights resident who is working on associate degrees at HFC in business and logistics, and supply chain management after he lost his job during the pandemic.

“So many things limit people in their lives because they can’t see a path,” Robey said during a formal announcement of the program on UM-Dearborn’s campus. “The big block M is intimidating. It’s foreboding. (Most) students who apply to UM don’t get in … But now, a pathway has been illuminated. Students are going to be able to change their stars.”

Russ Kavalhuna, HFC president, said the program will knock down a barrier that has been in the minds of some community college students, a barrier that was even symbolized by a berm between the two Dearborn campuses that was recently dismantled.

All HFC students need to do is earn an associate degree in arts, science or business while carrying a grade point average of at least 2.75. Then, the door will be open to them to transfer to UM-Dearborn.

“That is a big hurdle for the students who attend Henry Ford College, this idea they belong at UM-Dearborn,” said Kavalhuna. “That message to them, that they belong, will make a big, big difference on student success.”

“This Learn4forward … (will) knock down a barrier,” Kavalhuna added. “There are too many barriers to students being successful.”

Learn4ward will eliminate students’ other hurdles to transfer to UM-Dearborn to earn a four-year degree.

Alayna Kondraciuk, a second-year student at Henry Ford College, said there are three big things that community college students consider when transferring to a four-year institution: Will they get accepted? Will their credits transfer? Will they get any scholarship funding?

“To have a program give you all three of these things, and guarantee the first two, is huge,” said Kondraciuk. “It’s going to take so much pressure and stress off of students. Learn4ward will essentially map out our higher education and prepare us for a bright and successful future.”

UM-Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso said that Henry Ford College has a history of supporting students to get them to complete their degree, and UM-Dearborn has also put numerous support systems in place to get students to graduation.

“You can admit as many people as you want, but getting them to the finish line is a different story,” said Grasso.

He noted that UM-Dearborn’s supports have led to an increase in the university’s four-year graduation rate by 3%. Those supports, such as an increased number of advisers, a one-stop office for registration, advising and financial aid and a block tuition program will help HFC transfer students be successful, too.

“The partnership is only part of the story,” said Grasso. “The other part of the story is we have the infrastructure and commitment between the two institutions to see these students through to graduation.”

This is especially important since the average UM-Dearborn student has a grade point average of 3.74, which is much higher than the admittance qualifications of 2.75 GPA for HFC students who earn an associate degree and want to transfer to UM Dearborn. Grasso said that UM officials will be working with HFC from the beginning of their college career.

“We are going to help these students along the way to take the right classes, to do well in those classes and then be able to seamlessly transfer over to our campus,” said Grasso.

Costs to attend HFC and UM-Dearborn are different, but officials say that will be addressed. At HFC, it costs $108 per credit hour for students living in the community college district and taking 100- and 200-level classes and $200 per credit hour for 300- and 400- level classes. At UM Dearborn, it costs $580 per credit hour for part-time undergraduate students, or $6,960 per semester for full-time students taking 12 credit hours or more.

Grasso noted that UM-Dearborn offers the Go Blue Guarantee, which started on the Ann Arbor campus in 2017 and expanded to UM’s Dearborn and Flint campuses in 2021. That program offers free tuition to students from families with incomes of $65,000 and assets of $50,000 or less.

“Even if a student doesn’t necessarily qualify for that, we meet demonstrated need for all students under $100,000 in family income,” said Grasso. “Students end up leaving with close to zero debt.”

There are two similar programs in the state, says Brandy Johnson of the Michigan Community College Association, but the innovative dimensions of the Learn4ward “makes it rather unique in Michigan.”

Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said the days of an individual earning a decent living with just a high school education are over. Within the Metro Detroit region, 42% of adults have a bachelor degree, associate degree or certificate but the state is working to increase that a goal of 60%. States with high levels of residents with post secondary educations are more prosperous, Baruah said.

But getting students into college is not enough.

“Every barrier that exists to a young person or adult to get that two-year or four-year degree needs to be addressed, and those barriers knocked down.” said Baruah. “That is exactly what (Henry Ford College and University of Michigan-Dearborn) have done here done today.”