By Mike Kruzman /

A statewide program that could help local workers in essential services with free college tuition has launched. Back in April, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the Future for Frontliners program to give those who worked in essential jobs during the pandemic a pathway to tuition-free college.

This week the program has officially launched and Michigan Works! Southeast, an agency that helps jobseekers and employers in 5 counties, including Livingston, is assisting the efforts. Director William Sleight says that in anticipation of the program, they have been dedicating resources with community college partners.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must be a Michigan resident, have worked in an essential industry at least part time for 11 weeks between April 1st and June 30th, and have been required by their job to work outside of their home for at least some of that time. Additionally, applicants must not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree or be in default on a federal student loan.

Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio said that the Futures for Frontliners program gives those who helped save lives and kept communities operating during the height of COVID-19 an opportunity to increase their skills and income while helping close the state’s skills gap.

For more information, or an application for the program, visit The deadline to apply is 11:59pm on December 31st.