The Futures for Frontliners scholarship program, announced this week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, will assist eligible Michigan residents, who served as essential workers during the statewide COVID-19 shutdown in April, May and June, with the opportunity to earn their first associates degree or industry-related certificate, tuition-free, at West Shore Community College or other Michigan community colleges.
“The program is a $24 million investment that is funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, part of the CARES Act funding,” said Whitmer. “Tuition-free access to get an associate degree or an industry-recognized occupational certificate is a chance for thousands of people to get on a path to a good job that will support themselves and their families. It also helps us close our skills gap here in Michigan, grow our economy and increase our families’ paychecks.”
“Access to tuition-free classes for frontline workers to pursue or advance their career is a way to thank these individuals,” WSCC President Scott Ward stated. “We hope many in our area will take advantage of this opportunity.”
To be eligible for Futures for Frontliners, applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
- be a Michigan resident;
- have worked in an essential industry at least half-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 – June 30, 2020;
- have a high school diploma or equivalent (e.g. GED);
- not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree;
- not be in default on a Federal student loan; and
- complete a Futures scholarship application by no later than 11:59 pm on December 31, 2020.
The Futures initiative is also helping provide educational services to those frontline workers who need high school completion or equivalency in order to attend a community college.
Using guidance from the federal government, Gov. Whitmer identified occupational fields that were critical to protecting and serving Michigan residents and helping to keep the state running, during the COVID-19 emergency. These included workers who staffed grocery stores and restaurants, provided waste management services, manufactured personal protective equipment, operated public transportation, or provided critical police or fire service. A list of essential industries can be found here.
To qualify, Futures for Frontliners applicants must:
- apply to and be admitted to a Michigan public community college;
- enroll at least half time in a Pell-eligible program that is leading to an associate degree or industry-recognized certificate;
- complete the current-year Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); and
- enroll and begin classes in the winter, summer, or fall semester of 2021.
The Futures funding is awarded at WSCC’s in-district tuition rate to an eligible applicant after all other tuition-restricted awards, Pell and Michigan Competitive Scholarship dollars have been applied. Non-tuition restricted gift aid or awards, such as student loans and work study, are not subtracted from the calculation of the Frontliners scholarship.
After receiving the award, scholarship recipients must continue to be a resident of Michigan, take at least 12 credit hours in a 12-month period, and complete a degree or certificate within four years. They must also maintain a 2.0 grade point average in courses taken as a Futures scholarship student and annually complete the FAFSA.
For more information about the Futures for Frontliners program and applying to West Shore Community College, contact the Student Services office or visit www.Michigan.gov/Frontliners.