Gov Gretchen Whitmer detailed a plan Thursday that will allow around 625,000 essential workers in Michigan who put in time during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown and don’t have a degree to be eligible for free college!

The plan is available to those who work in the medical field, along with people who worked in manufacturing, nursing homes, grocery stores, sanitation, delivery, retail and more.

Note: The free college is currently limited to community colleges.

To be eligible for the program, an applicant must:

  • Be a Michigan resident
  • Have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 — June 30
  • Have been required to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 — June 30
  • Not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree
  • Not be in default on a federal student loan
  • Complete a Futures for Frontliners scholarship application by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31

Frontline workers can visit to check out career opportunities, a list of local community colleges, and to get started on their application.

The program is a $24 million investment funded by Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund —  part of the federal CARES Act.

“This initiative is Michigan’s way of expressing gratitude to essential workers for protecting public health and keeping our state running,” Whitmer said in a statement prior to a news conference. “Whether it was stocking shelves, delivering supplies, picking up trash, manufacturing PPE or providing medical care, you were there for us. Now this is your chance to pursue the degree or training you’ve been dreaming about to help you and your own family succeed.”

Whitmer has been working to increase the percentage of Michigan adults who have some sort of post-high school credential or degree, from 45% to 60%, by 2030.