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Michigan Offers Free Community College Education to Essential Workers

Michigan Offers Free Community College Education to Essential Workers
Susan Dutca-Lovell

The state of Michigan is set to offer two years of free community college to essential workers who were required by their job to leave the house and work at least 11 weeks in the spring during the coronavirus pandemic. This unique opportunity, called Futures for Frontliners, opens doors to essential workers who are not commonly considered front-line workers and an estimated 600,000 residents could qualify.

Individuals who have been deemed essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic have been those who "conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continue critical infrastructure operations," according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For the purpose of the Futures for Frontliners program - funded by $24 million from the Governor's Education Emergency Relief Fund (GEER), a portion of money appropriated through the federal CARES Act - the essential workforce would include grocery workers, gas station clerks, and sanitation workers, as long as they meet all qualifying criteria. A full list of eligible industries can be found here. So far, the state has seen tens of thousands of applications for the new program and applicants have until December 31, 2020 at midnight to apply.

In order to qualify for the Futures for Frontliners program, applicants must:

  • Reside in Michigan
  • Have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 – June 30
  • Have been required by their job to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 – June 30
  • Not already have an associate's or bachelor's degree
  • Not have defaulted on a federal student loan

There is also no age limit or income cap to be eligible for the program. Furthermore, the Futures for Frontliners grants will only pay for community college tuition not already covered by Pell Grants. If you are interested in learning more about the Futures for Frontliners program, or to apply, click here.

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