State officials hope for more applications by Dec 31 for essential workers scholarships
The application deadline for the state's Futures for Frontliners program is December 31, 2020.
According to state officials, 100,000 essential workers have applied since the program was kicked off in early September. But officials hope even more will apply before the upcoming deadline.
The program offers free tuition towards an associate degree or industry-recognized certificate at community college. It also provides tuition to complete the requirements for a high school diploma.
Applicants must have worked in an essential industry during the state's COVID-19 shutdown in spring 2020 between April 1 and June 30.
Kerry Ebersole, director of the Office of Sixty by 30 in the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, said the program is a way to thank Michigan frontline workers who put themselves in harm's way early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's opening up an opportunity for those frontline workers to pursue their educational dreams and also put them on a path to a more prosperous future," Ebersole said.
Ebersole said preparing Michiganders for high-demand careers is key to the state's economic growth and prosperity.
"We want to ensure that we have the talented workforce that our businesses need to best compete in today's economy and the future," said Ebersole.
"Our expectation is anyone who enrolls in this program and starts in classes next year, that we'll be able to support them through completion," said Ebersole, noting that completion of the associate degree or certificate must occur within 4 years.
The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has rolled out a new state regional career database that lists in-demand occupations by region and shows the educational and training requirements for each as well as median pay and number of annual openings.
"We want to lift awareness up in terms of where are the job opportunities in a given area, what is the median wage, and we want to connect those needs to this education opportunity," Ebersole said.
"I think this a really important source of information regardless of whether you can qualify for a Frontliners scholarship or not," said Ebersole.
Ebersole said the Futures for Frontliners program is part of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's effort toward the goal that 60% of Michiganders have a degree or certificate beyond high school by 2030.
Information about the program and how to apply can be found here.