Wayne State University Introduces Scholarship for Essential Workers

Wayne State University has announced an initiative to help frontline workers get a break in the cost of education. The Frontliners Forward Scholarship will offer $4,000 dollars to essential frontline employees looking to secure a bachelor’s degree in any field.

Gravely impacting the economy, the costs of the pandemic extend beyond financial. For essential workers, manning the frontlines of grocery stores, gas stations and other vital community businesses, was key to the success of neighborhoods during the ongoing COVID crisis.

To be eligible, students will need to have first completed the state’s Futures for Frontliners program enacted by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Initially announced in April 2020, students who are Michigan residents without a college degree and employed as an essential worker were able to attend community college tuition-free to earn their associate degree or a certificate in a skilled trade.

“This initiative is Michigan’s way of expressing gratitude to essential workers for protecting public health and keeping our state running,” says Whitmer. “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.”

A part of a $24 million dollar investment funded by the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund and in support of the state’s Sixty by 30 goal, the Future for Frontliners Program is closed, but has opened the door for local colleges and universities to lend a hand.

Now, the latest university to launch its own fund to help essential workers in their pursuit of education, Wayne State is opening applications for recent community college graduates to become a Warrior.

“Essentially, all they have to do is apply as a transfer student,” says Dawn Medley, associate vice president of enrollment management for Wayne State University. “They apply for admission, then let us know they were apart of that program and it’s an automatic reward.”

For the estimated 625,000 essential workers across the state, Wayne State University is ensuring a chance at completing a bachelor’s degree on their terms. Knowing essential workers are typically the breadwinners, flexible class schedules are offered to help ease work-school balance.

“We have incredibly flexible schedules. Time is going to march on and you can be five years down the road with or without a degree,” Medley says. “It can change the economic future for you and your family.”

Helping to power Michigan’s economy, frontline workers have become the true heroes of the pandemic. For Wayne State, offering the opportunity to advance their degrees will, in turn, help these hometown heroes in the state’s economic future.

“We believe education is going to be the economic engine for Detroit,” Medley says.


To be considered, applicants must apply to Wayne State. The university’s Frontliners Forward Program is the first of its kind and will break the $4,000 dollar scholarship into smaller portions to stretch across the student’s academic fall and spring semesters.

“We will give $1,000 dollars toward a bachelor’s degree for each of the four terms,” Medley explains.

As the COVID-19 pandemic caused an unlikely and unprecedented stop in economic commerce, education and social interactions, community colleges saw a spike in enrollment with the unveiling of the $24 million-dollar educational push from the state.

In addition to completion of the state’s Futures for Frontliners program, to be considered, applicants must also earn an associate degree from a community college in Michigan and pursue and enroll for their first bachelor’s degree at Wayne State University. To maintain the scholarship, students must maintain full-time enrollment or a course load of 12 credits and meet satisfactory progress standards in academics. Students can be eligible for merit-based scholarships in conjunction with the Frontliners Forward award.

For more information visit https://wayne.edu/scholarships/transfer/frontliners









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