Roughly 625,000 essential workers in Michigan who worked during the peak of the 2020 lockdown and don’t have a degree are eligible for free college with a new bill announced today (Sept. 10) by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The bill, called Futures for Frontliners, was inspired by the G.I. Bill that offered free college education to people who served their country in WWII.
For now, the free college benefit is exclusively for community colleges.
The bill covers those essential workers in a variety of fields, including medical, manufacturing, nursing homes, grocery stores, delivery, sanitation, retail and more.
“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 statement. “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, an applicant 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
- Have been required to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 — June 30
- 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
Frontline workers are asked 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.
The program is a $24M investment funded by Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund – part of the CARES Act.