MI ECHO scholarship helps frontline workers not eligible for federal financial aid

Fall color
Posted at 2:52 PM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 14:52:37-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new scholarship helps essential workers not eligible for federal financial aid get a tuition-free education.

The Michigan Equity, Courage, Hope and Opportunity Scholarship – MI ECHO – is designed to serve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, Temporary Protected Status immigrants, Special Immigrant Juveniles and others who are excluded from most traditional financial aid opportunities.

It’s funded by private donors and philanthropic organizations and administered by the Michigan College Action Network, according to a news release Friday.

MI ECHO is for people who cannot access federal financial aid and who worked in an essential job during the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with the March 2020 shutdown.

Candidates must live in Michigan and be eligible for acceptance into a certificate or associate degree program and cannot have previously earned an associate degree or bachelor's degree in any country.

It can be used as early as the Winter 2022 semester.

“Our community grows stronger when everyone has access to higher education,” said Tina Hoxie, associate provost and dean of student affairs at Grand Rapids Community College. “Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect have made it possible for thousands of people to start or restart their education at GRCC. The MI ECHO scholarship will help even more people gain new skills for careers, help their families and change their lives.”

The scholarship covers tuition, contact hours and other mandatory fees to help students work toward a degree or earn a career-focused certificate.

Applications may be submitted through Dec. 31, 2022.

Funds are limited, so people interested in the scholarship are urged to apply as soon as they can.

Students must enroll in the associate degree or certificate program within six months of being accepted or reapply.

“We were excited to see how Gov. Whitmer’s Futures for Frontliners program changed the conversation around community college and brought in so many Michiganders who are eager to improve their economic opportunities through postsecondary education,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director. “We designed MI ECHO to mirror that opportunity for workers who served in essential roles throughout the pandemic, but who are unable to access federal financial aid. MI ECHO honors the hard work of these individuals while investing in our workforce and moving us closer to our state’s Sixty by 30 goal.”