Lansing, MI—About 625,000 essential workers in Michigan who worked outside their home during the state’s stay-at-home order will be eligible for tuition-free college, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday.

Futures for Frontliners, the plan detailed by Whitmer on Thursday, was initially announced in April. The plan is inspired by the G.I. Bill, which provided college education to those who served their country in World War II.

To be eligible for the tuition-free college, 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 – June 30
  • Have been required by their job 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 Future for Frontliners scholarship application by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31

Frontline workers can apply and view career opportunities by visiting

“This initiative is Michigan’s way of expressing gratitude to essential workers for protecting public health and keeping our state running,” Whitmer said. “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 said she hopes other states will follow Michigan’s lead and create similar programs.

The program is a $24 million investment funded by the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, which is part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

A number of business groups, corporations and labor unions have volunteered to inform their frontline workers and members about the opportunity for tuition-free college.

Whitmer has previously set a goal of increasing the percentage of Michigan adults with an industry certificate, college degree or apprenticeship from 45% to 60% by 2030.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...