MI ECHO scholarship helps frontline workers not eligible for federal financial aid

Grand Rapids, Michigan – A new scholarship helps essential workers who are not eligible for federal financial aid obtain a tuition-free education.

The Michigan Equity, Courage, Hope, and Opportunity Scholarship – MI ECHO – is designed to serve deferred actions for childhood beneficiaries, temporary protected immigrants, juvenile special immigrants and others who are excluded from most traditional financial assistance opportunities.

It was funded by private donors and charitable organizations and managed by the Michigan College Action Network, according to a news release Friday.

The MI ECHO is for people who do not have access to federal financial aid and who have worked in an essential job during the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning with the March 2020 shutdown.

Candidates must live in Michigan and be eligible for admission to a certificate or associate degree program and cannot previously earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in any country.

May be used as early as 2022 winter.

“Our community grows stronger when everyone has access to higher education,” said Tina Hockey, associate dean and dean of student affairs at Grand Rapids Community College. “Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect have made it possible for thousands of people to start or re-educate at GRCC. The MI ECHO Scholarship will help more people gain new skills for careers, help their families, and change their lives.”

The scholarship covers tuition, contact hours and other mandatory fees to help students work towards a career-focused degree or certificate.

Applications can be submitted until December 31, 2022.

Funds are limited, so people interested in the scholarship are urged to apply as soon as possible.

Students must enroll in an associate’s degree or certificate program within six months of being accepted or re-applied.

“We were excited to see how Gov. Whitmer’s Futures for Frontliners program has changed the conversation around community college and brought in so many Michiganders eager to improve their economic prospects through post-secondary education,” said Ryan Fiwens-Bliss, executive director of MCAN. “We designed MI ECHO to reflect this opportunity for workers who have served in essential roles throughout the pandemic, but are unable to access federal financial aid. MI ECHO honors the hard work of these individuals while investing in our workforce and bringing us closer to our 30-60 state goal.”

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