Futures for Frontliners offers free tuition.

October 7, 2020

Futures for Frontliners offers free tuition.

Futures for Frontliners, a program offering a tuition-free path to earning a GED, certificate or associate degree, may be a great boost for West Michigan residents to attend or return to college, according to a press release from the Oceana College Access Network.

The deadline for the application is Dec. 31, 2020.

Launched in early September, FFF offers tuition-free college to an estimated 625,000 Michiganders who provided essential, frontline services during COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe orders between April and June of 2020.

Inspired by the GI Bill that rewards military service with educational funding, FFF funding is designed to reward Michigan residents who assumed risk during the early pandemic period because of the nature of their work.

“This initiative is Michigan’s way of expressing gratitude to essential workers for protecting public health and keeping our state running,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “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 half-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 and June 30, 2020 and were required by their job to work outside the home during that period
● Not hold 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.

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

The $24 million program is funded by Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund, which is part of the CARES Act. FFF supports the state’s Sixty by 30 goal to increase the number of working-age Michiganders completing an industry certificate, college degree or apprenticeship. A more educated Michigan workforce encourages existing businesses to expand, attracts new industry and innovation, and helps families navigate a changing economy through improving earning potential.

“The vast majority of good paying jobs continue to require at least some education beyond high school,” said Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio. “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.”

West Shore Community College and Muskegon Community College have representatives to offer guidance to community members. For WSCC, email or call: future4frontliners@westshore.edu or 231-845-3325; For MCC, visit: https://www.muskegoncc.edu/enrollment-services/futures-for-frontliners/.

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