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Attention: Essential workers! Time is running out to apply for a tuition-free ride to college

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Posted at 3:05 PM, Dec 20, 2020

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Frontline workers and essential workers who don’t have a college degree – yet who risked their lives during the height of the coronavirus lockdown last spring – can now apply for a tuition-free ride to college.

But the deadline is fast approaching. Here’s what you need to know so you don’t waste your money.

Think about all the people who’ve kept store shelves stocked, our internet working, gas stations running, and food and online orders delivered right to our doors.

“There are so many Michiganders who have stepped up courageously because they had to,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II in a one-on-one interview with 7 Action New's Alicia Smith this week.

“They had to go to work to feed their families and to, frankly, provide the infrastructure and support and health resources for all of us to be able to continue life during this pandemic,” Lt. Gov. Gilchrist added.

The Lt. Governor said Michigan is the only state in the country to develop a scholarship program to thank essential workers.

It’s called Futures for Frontliners. It is a tuition-free pathway to education.

About 625,000 Michiganders are eligible.

Since the program was introduced in September, Gilchrist said 100,000 people have applied.

“It’s safe to say that the people of Michigan have exceeded expectations,” Gilchrist said.

“Let’s see how many more we can get by December 31,” said Eva Dodds, a college advisor with Collegewise Metro Detroit.

She said this kind of scholarship is almost unprecedented.

“It’s like a version of the GI Bill. You came home from the front lines of World War II. Now let us give you a free education. This is Michigan’s version. You’ve been on our front lines with COVID, now let us give you something back,” Dodds said.

The program uses $24 million of CARES Act funding from the federal government to pay for frontliners to attend their local community college tuition-free.

To be eligible, applicants must meet six prerequisites:

And, get this! If you’re a home-based child care provider and meet the other eligibility criteria, you’re eligible to apply.

“I really hope that you, our frontline workers, will give yourself an early holiday present and please apply,” said Dodds.

Some universities are also stepping up to join the effort.

In early December, Eastern Michigan University and Henry Ford College announced a partnership to offer EMU scholarships to frontline workers who complete their associate degree at Henry Ford College and then pursue a bachelor’s degree at EMU.

So, an affordable four-year degree can be a reality.

First thing’s first! You have to apply by December 31, 2020.