NEWS
September 12, 2020

Essential Workers Get Free Tuition For Community College in Michigan

Essential Workers Get Free Tuition For Community College in Michigan
Chaunie Brusie By: Chaunie Brusie

The program provides college free tuition to eligible Michigan residents. 

If you live in Michigan and worked as an essential worker--even part-time--during spring 2020, and are looking to go become an RN, we have good news for you: you may be able to attend nursing school for free. 

Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, announced the launch of the Future for Frontliners program to provide free college to those who were essential workers in the springtime. The program, which is reminiscent of the GI Bill that helped soldiers after WWII procure an education, can reach 625,000 Michiganders. So, are you one of them?

What is the "Future for Frontlines" program? 

The program is a state-wide scholarship that provides anyone without a college degree who lives in Michigan and worked in an essential industry through April 1 to June 30, 2020 with the opportunity to get tuition-free access to a community college. Once you are in the program, you can earn your associate’s degree or a skill certificate through the school on either a part-time (if you need to continue working) or a full-time basis. 

You are also eligible for the program if you haven’t yet completed high school--the program can help you earn your GED and then advance on to community college. The exact eligibility rules stipulate you have to: 

  • Be a Michigan resident
  • Worked in an essential industry that required you to leave your home at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks 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 a note: although the program stipulates that you are only eligible if your job required you to physically report to work, if you worked in a home-based child care position, you are still eligible to apply for the scholarship.

Who Will the Program Help? 

According to a press release, the program is meant to give back to the essential workers who worked during the state’s shutdown. 

“This initiative is Michigan’s way of expressing gratitude to essential workers for protecting public health and keeping our state running,” Whitmer said in the 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.”

The official program’s website explains that it based eligibility on the identification of 14 essential industries in the state, including those in the medical field, manufacturing, grocery stores, sanitation, delivery and retail. However, there are variances as to what counts so anyone who is unsure if they qualify for the program is encouraged to contact the Customer Care Center by phone at 517-636-7000 or through email.

And for workers that may have switched jobs since the spring or can’t remember their exact work schedule, the state says they will be working with wage-record data for verification, and there is an Employment Verification Form that can be completed with your employer to help as well. 

Will This Impact the Future of Nursing?

While the program certainly holds the potential to help MI residents who may want to go to nursing school, it remains to be seen how effective the program will be in helping those who need it. 

And Whitmer’s announcement came with mixed reactions to Michiganders. Some praised the program, calling it an investment in the future, while others questioned if it would actually help people who wanted to further their education. Others pointed out that because of her own executive orders, many people were not allowed to physically report to work--such as in construction industries--leaving them ineligible for the scholarship. 

“This is great for those that do not have a degree,” a facebook user commented. “However, most of us that provide medical care have a degree that is above an associate degree. I think it will be interesting to see how many people this helps.” 

Applications are available to the scholarship program through December 31, 2020, and those looking to apply can apply online. 

Benefits of Becoming a Nurse

Not only is nursing a rewarding career but, the industry boasts lucrative salaries and a positive job outlook with plenty of job security. In fact, you can become a certified nursing assistance in just a few month and start working in the medical field. With an associate's degree in nursing, you will be able to work as a Registered Nurse in a hospital and specialty of your choice. 

Quick facts about nursing, 

If you're interested in learning more about nursing career, visit nurse.org's education center - we have several guides to teach you all about the different education paths and careers. Here are a few important facts about nursing in the U.S., 

  • Salary: $73,000 per year in the media annual salary for Registered Nurses in the U.S. 
  • Career Outlook: Job opportunities are expected to grow by 12% by 2028, much faster that most other occupations.
  • Program Length: there are a few paths to start working towards a career as a registered nurse. An Associate's Degree in Nursing is a 2 year program while a Bachelors Degree in Nursing is a 4 year program. However, if you're looking to start working in the medical industry sooner there are a few other options to choose from to help you get on-the job experience while you continue to advance your education. Here are a few nursing programs to choose from, 

Show Me BSN Programs

Do you already have a degree in another field but, want to get a nursing degree next? The good news is that you can apply your previous degree towards your nursing degree and enroll in an accelerated nursing program and earn your BSN degree in about 2 years. Read the guide here. 

Looking to break into the healthcare field even faster? Here are 7 healthcare careers that you can start fast like, within 6 to 18 months. 

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