Front-line workers in Michigan can now attend community college tuition-free.
Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s governor, announced the Futures for Frontliners program Thursday. It will provide tuition-free college to about 625,000 people in the state, according to a release.
The funding will be available to those who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic during the state’s stay-at-home orders from April through June. It includes those in the medical field, as well as people who worked in manufacturing, nursing homes, delivery, retail, grocery stores and sanitation.
A person must be a Michigan resident and have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks that the state had a stay-at-home order to be eligible. Applicants must also have not previously earned a college degree and not be in default on a federal student loan. The application closes on Dec. 31.
The Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund is investing $24 million into the program.
“The vast majority of good paying jobs continue to require at least some education beyond high school,” Jeff Donofrio, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, said in the release. “Futures for Frontliners gives those who helped save lives and kept our communities operating during the height of COVID an opportunity to increase their skills and income and helps us close the state’s skills gap. For Michigan’s economy to recover and grow, it’s critical we continue to provide expanded opportunities to all.”
A long list of businesses, corporations, unions and legislators have volunteered to inform the people they work with and serve about the program.