Time is running out to take advantage of Futures for Frontliners, a program launched by the state earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It gives frontline workers without a college degree the opportunity to earn an associate degree or an industry-recognized certificate for free or a minimal cost.
We checked in with Stephanie Briggs, Director of Admissions at Muskegon Community College (MCC), to learn more about Futures for Frontliners, a tuition-free community college opportunity.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer set up the program earlier this year to advance three key goals during the pandemic. Its primary aim is to show the state’s gratitude for frontline workers who put themselves at risk to help the greater community. It also seeks to help address the state’s already critical skills gap. And finally, it is designed to encourage enrollment in community colleges.
The Lakeshore: How can people apply for a Futures for Frontliners scholarship and what is the deadline?
The deadline is Dec. 31. A quick way to learn more is by clicking on muskegoncc.edu/frontliners
or the state website
to apply for F4F. With either link, you can learn more and find out how to apply. At the MCC link, you can learn how to become a student at MCC.
TL: What does the scholarship cover and does it matter if the applicant isn’t an in-district student?
It covers in-district tuition and mandatory course fees for in-county students. Out-of-district students will be responsible for the difference between in-district and out-of-district tuition. For example, Ottawa County students pay just 20% of the costs they normally pay to attend MCC.
TL: What are the requirements to qualify for this scholarship?
To be eligible for Future for Frontliners, you must meet all of the following criteria:
TL: Does an applicant’s income — or their parents’ income — impact whether they qualify for the scholarship?
- Complete a Futures scholarship application by no later than 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2020.
- Be a Michigan resident.
- Have worked in an essential industry at least half time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020; (view a list of essential occupations).
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. Those without a high school diploma or equivalency are eligible for services to help them prepare for and complete this credential.
- Apply to and be admitted to a Michigan public community college.
- Not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree.
- Complete the current-year Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Not be in default on a federal student loan.
- Enroll at least half time in a Pell-eligible program that is leading to an associate degree or industry-recognized certificate.
- Enroll and begin classes in the winter, summer, or fall semester of 2021.
The short answer is no. This scholarship isn’t based on income, although every applicant still needs to complete the current-year FAFSA.
TL: How long does it take to fill out the state’s application and what information is needed?
It takes less than 10 minutes. The application entails answering three questions to create an account: intro of you, where you work, and where you want to go to school. Applicants also need to fill out an application to a community college if they haven’t been a student for three years. The application for Muskegon Community College contains 15 questions that gather basic information. It can be completed online.
TL: When do scholarship recipients need to begin classes and complete their programs?
They need to enroll and begin classes in the winter, summer, or fall semester of 2021. They have up to four years to complete a credential and must take a minimum of six credits per semester. At Muskegon Community College, there are 70 options, from certificate programs like welding or respiratory therapy to degrees that transfer to four-year colleges and universities. Currently, all classes are virtual.
TL: Can people already taking classes at a community college still apply?
Yes, the program is open to anyone who doesn’t already have a degree. So far, more than 85,000 people have signed up statewide. More than 2,600 have signed up at Muskegon Community College. They include students who live in Muskegon County and out of the district, including from Ottawa, Oceana, Newaygo, and Kent counties.
TL: If people have more questions, who should they contact?
If someone is interested in applying for the Futures for Frontliners program to take classes at MCC, they can contact me at email@example.com
or 231-777-0337. Our team is ready to do everything we can to help applicants qualify. We don’t want them to miss this wonderful opportunity to earn a degree or industry-recognized certificate, especially for free or at a greatly reduced cost.