DEARBORN — Henry Ford College (HFC) in Dearborn is one of the participants in Michigan’s tuition-free program, Futures for Frontliners, which will fund education for workers who performed essential duties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program, inspired by the World War II GI bill, will offer tuition-free college opportunities to an estimated 625,000 Michigan citizens who have served as essential workers during the pandemic.
Essential workers eligible for Futures for Frontliners who risked their health and their lives to provide essential services during the pandemic include:
- Hospital and nursing home staff
- Grocery store employees
- Childcare providers serving critical infrastructure workers
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers
- Public safety employees
- Sanitation workers
- Delivery drivers/postal workers
HFC serves 13,000 enrolled students and offers more than 150 associate degree, career, certificate and university transfer programs. Eligible essential workers can enroll in any of the programs offered.
HFC President Russell Kavalhuna has expressed his excitement about the program and called it the best news he’s heard in months.
“We are going to commit to make it worth their time,” Kavalhuna said. “Our college wants to make sure that every single class they take is a step forward to a new career or an enhanced career. We will work hard to understand their goals and to achieve a path for them to accomplish those goals. We will assist them in their financial needs, their academic needs and their social needs during their college experience.”
HFC has been in Dearborn since 1938. It serves 13,000 enrolled students and offers more than 150 associate degree, career, certificate and university transfer programs. Eligible essential workers can enroll in any of the programs offered. HFC also offers a bachelor of science in culinary arts and hospitality studies.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must:
- Be a Michigan resident
- Have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 and June 30, 2020
- Have been required by their job to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 and June 30, 2020
- Have not previously earned an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree
- Have not defaulted on a federal student loan
- Have completed a Futures for Frontliners application by Thursday, Dec. 31 at 11:59 p.m.
If applicants meet requirements as verified by the state, they will be able to begin their studies at HFC as early as the Winter 2021 Semester, which begins Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.
How to apply
To apply, those interested should go to HFC’s Future for Frontliners website at www.hfcc.edu/frontliners. There, the first step in enrolling is to determine eligibility through the state of Michigan, for which a link is provided. Candidates can apply to HFC after they are determined eligible for the program. HFC will also provide an inquiry form for more information about the program.
If applicants meet requirements as verified by the state, they will be able to begin their studies at HFC as early as the Winter 2021 semester, which begins Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.
Futures for Frontliners is a $24 million investment funded by the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund, which is part of the CARES Act. It also supports Governor Whitmer’s 60 by 30 Action Alliance, an initiative Whitmer announced in her first state of the state address that will increase the number of Michigan citizens with a post-secondary credential to 60 percent by 2030 to meet the demand for skilled workers.
Advocates for additional career training stated that Futures for Frontliners also helps them offset training costs and provide another avenue for retention and long-term career growth.
Several other business organizations, corporations, unions and legislators have volunteered to serve as Frontliners Champions. These Champions will inform their frontline workers, members and constituents about this tuition-free college opportunity.
For more information about Futures for Frontliners, visit www.hfcc.edu/frontliners.