State program offers free college for qualifying frontline workers amid pandemic

Frontline workers have a few weeks left to take advantage of a unique state of Michigan program allowing some of them to get free college at any community college. 

Henry Ford College is taking it a step further, working to give students a chance at a four-year degree while they’re at it.

"We went to our partners in the four-year university world and we went to Eastern Michigan University and said how can we make the future for front-liners of students get the next step to a bachelor's degree?" said Russ Kavalhuna, president of Henry Ford College. "One of our greatest partners, President Smith at Eastern Michigan University put together a really great package for these essential workers to take that next step in the trajectory towards a better life."

So now, front-liners who qualify for the program can go to a Henry Ford College and then hop over to Eastern for their next chapter.

"They have a seamless pathway to Eastern Michigan," said Dr. Jim Smith. "As we say, we have 40 of those. So 40 degrees they can choose from, and they won’t lose a single hour of community college credit. And they will come to us and they will finish the next two years at Eastern Michigan in that degree concentration area."

Those who are at or above the poverty line will be getting the benefits they are eligible for and then some.

"If they come to us and they have PEL eligibility, meaning they are at or below the poverty line and the federal government gives them dollars, we will match that to full tuition," said Dr. Jim Smith. "So they were literally at the first half of a bachelor degree and the second half of a bachelor degree at no cost."

"This is a population of students that we already take a lot of passion and pride in serving," said Kavalhuna. "Now we know that this pandemic has disproportionately, negatively affected them but here we are serving that, it does make us feel like we’re doing our institutions special even better by connecting them with another great partner in Eastern Michigan University."

To qualify as a frontline worker, you should have been working for 11 weeks between April 1st and June 30th to be eligible  Apply at