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Whitmer announces tuition-free path to community college for frontline workers

Education, labor, business, and workforce leaders join to urge Michigan’s 625,000 COVID-19 essential workers to apply now for tuition-free college

LANSING, Mich — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, along with leaders in education, business, labor and workforce development, launched a program offering tuition-free college to essential, frontline workers who worked during to the pandemic. 

The state estimates that around 625,000 Michiganders provided essential services during COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe orders between April – June 2020.

Futures for Frontliners, inspired by the GI Bill which provided college degree to those serving their country in WWII, offers essential workers without college degrees or high school diplomas a way to gain skills needed to obtain high-demand, high-wage careers. The funding is not only available to those in the medical field, it's available for essential workers in manufacturing, nursing homes, grocery stores, sanitation, delivery, and retail.

►Watch the full press conference here.

The program is a $24 million investment funded by the Governor's Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund -- part of the CARES Act, and supports the state’s Sixty by 30 goal announced during Whitmer's first state of the state address to increase the number of working-age Michiganders completing an a industry certificate, college degree or apprenticeship.

“This initiative is Michigan’s way of expressing gratitude to essential workers for protecting public health and keeping our state running,” Whitmer said in a press release Thursday. “Whether it was stocking shelves, delivering supplies, picking up trash, manufacturing PPE or providing medical care, you were there for us. Now this is your chance to pursue the degree or training you’ve been dreaming about to help you and your own family succeed.”

To be eligible for the program, applicants must:

  • Be a Michigan resident
  • Have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 – June 30, 2020
  • Have been required by their job to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 – June 30, 2020
  • Not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree
  • Not be in default on a Federal student loan
  • Complete a Futures for Frontliners scholarship application by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 31, 2020

Applications for 'Frontliners' available in West Michigan

Here's a list of community colleges where West Michigan residents can take part in the Futures for Frontliners program: 

  • Grand Rapids Community College
  • Muskegon Community College
  • Montcalm Community College
  • Kalamazoo Valley Community College
  • Kellogg Community College
  • Lake Michigan College
  • Glen Oaks Community College
  • Southwestern Michigan College
  • Northwest Michigan College

Frontline workers are encouraged to visit www.michigan.gov/Frontliners to explore career opportunities, a list of local community colleges and get started on their application -- even if they don’t already have a high school diploma.

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