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Governor Whitmer announces new “Futures for Frontliners” initiative

Governor Whitmer announced a new initiative “Future for Frontliners,” which would offer free college tuition to frontline workers.
Futures for Frontliners
Futures for Frontliners(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 9:10 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Governor Whitmer announced a new initiative “Future for Frontliners,” which would offer free college tuition to frontline workers.

“'Futures for Frontlines' is a tuition-free college opportunity that will help more workers acquire technical certificates, associate degrees at our community colleges, and potentially bachelor’s degrees at our universities after this crisis is over,” Governor Whitmer said in a press conference.

“Futures for Frontliners” is a 24-million-dollar investment funded by the governor’s emergency education relief fund, which is included in the Cares Act and the first of its kind in the United States.

It applies to all 28 of Michigan’s community colleges.

To be eligible, you 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, and complete a futures for front liners scholarship application by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 31, 2020.

While this bill seems promising to all frontline workers, Bay College’s Jeremy Belanger says there’s some fine print.

“If they live in a different district, they’re still eligible for the program, but they would only get that in district rate covered and they would have to cover that difference between the in-district and out of district rates in other ways,” he said. Meaning in upper Michigan, the two eligible schools for the scholarship are Bay College in Escanaba, and Gogebic Community College in Ironwood.

Frontline workers who live and pay taxes in Delta and Gogebic Counties can receive the full free tuition, but anyone outside of those counties won’t.

Bay’s website says the program pays for Delta County tuition rates and certain fees. Tuition costs above Delta County rates for non-Delta County residents, additional fees, textbooks, and supplies are costs the student would incur.

“Students will be eligible for the cost of the in district rate so the delta county rate and if they live in a different district, they’re still eligible for the program but they would only get that in-district rate covered and then they would have to cover that difference between the in-district and out of district rate in other ways,” Belanger said.

The Detroit Free Press estimates about 625,000 essential workers in Michigan are eligible for the scholarship. Belanger says more information about the initiative is still coming in, but it will help Michigan’s employment and education gaps.

In addition to the futures for front liners program, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist announced a second program to help Michiganders upscale into new careers.

“We’re partnering with the modern states education alliance and the college board to help Michiganders earn free college credit," Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said.

This one-million-dollar contribution will help adults obtain a college degree by fully funding 10 thousand college level program exams and pre-exam coursework over the next year.

“This program will save people time and money while helping them get another step closer to earning their degree or certification that paves the way for a wide range of durable and long-term employment, career, and entrepreneurial opportunities," he said.

For more information on eligibility, visit Bay College’s website or Michigan.gov.

Copyright 2020 WLUC. All rights reserved.

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