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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Whitmer proposes free college for essential workers in program modeled after the G.I. Bill

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2020 at 3:57 PM

  • Joe Tabacca, Shutterstock

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a first-of-its kind program that would provide tuition-free college education for essential employees working through the coronavirus pandemic.

Modeled after the G.I. Bill that offered soldiers education opportunities after World War II, Whitmer's "Futures for Frontliners" program would provide a pathway to college degrees or technical certificates to essential workers without a college degree, including hospital and nursing home staff, grocery store workers, infrastructure workers, and others.

"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 in a statement. "I want to assure all of our workers we will never forget those of you who stepped up and sacrificed their own health during this crisis. You're the reason we’re going to get through this."

Whitmer had previously set a goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a technical certificate or college degree from 45% to 60% by 2030.

Support of the plan hinges of bipartisan support in the Legislature.

Whitmer also called on Congress to support Sen. Gary Peters' Heroes Fund to provide hazard pay for an estimated 3 million frontline workers. The proposal would provide those workers with an additional $13 per hour.

Whitmer did not say how the program would be funded.

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