As the job market grows increasingly competitive, high school diplomas and GED certificates have become less of a guarantee that a worker will earn enough to generate themselves, let alone their families. In 2012, Michigan’s underemployment rate was 17.4 percent, and the unemployment rate currently stands at 7.8 percent, well above the national average. Higher education greatly improves lifetime earnings and expands the number of jobs one is qualified for. Improving access to higher education is vital to helping Michigan workers sustain living wages. Several states, including Tennessee and Oregon, have considered legislation that would make public two-year colleges tuition-free. There are certainly members of the community who are willing and able to pay community college tuition, but many cannot come close to affording it or having real access to loans. Michigan should increase funding for community colleges to allow for free tuition for those who cannot afford it, reducing the financial barriers to higher education.