Whitmer announces essential workers get free tuition

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 - 4:16pm

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Courtesy of Michigan Executive Office.

In a press release Wednesday night, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of the Futures for Frontliners program to provide essential workers a tuition-free pathway to a college degree or technical certificate to support those working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer said the initiative is an expression of gratitude to essential workers. 

“The Futures for Frontliners program is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who have risked their lives on the front lines of this crisis,” Whitmer said. “This program will ensure tuition-free college opportunities and give these dedicated Michiganders an opportunity to earn a technical certificate, associate degree or even a bachelor’s degree.”

The statement said the program was inspired by the federal GI Bill that offered tuition payment benefits to World War II veterans. Whitmer’s proposed goal of increasing the percentage of working-age adults who have a degree or technical certificate from 45 percent to 60 percent aligns with the initiative.

Whitmer announced additional measures to provide funding to workers during the pandemic, such as providing affordable childcare. The release says the state of Michigan will apply federal funding to unemployment insurance benefits so employees with reduced hours can collect the supplemental income.

The governor also expressed support for a plan Sen. Debbie Stabenaw, D-Mich., and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., created to provide additional financial support to workers encountering hazardous conditions. According to the press release, more than 3 million essential workers are still working in Michigan.

“No Michigander should have to worry about how to feed their family or pay rent during a crisis,” Whitmer said. “And no Michigander should be scared to go to work.”

Daily Staff Reporter Arjun Thakkar can be reached at arjunt@umich.edu.