Futures for Frontliners could drive “huge surge” in NMC enrollment

TRAVERSE CITY — More than 1,000 frontline workers have applied to NMC in the three weeks since the free tuition program was announced.

Futures for Frontliners offers free in-district tuition to community colleges to Michiganders who worked in essential industries between April 1 and June 30 but do not have a college degree. They may pursue an associate degree or a skills certificate on a full-time or part-time basis while they continue to work. NMC’s in-district tuition rates apply to Grand Traverse County residents. Those who qualify but live outside the district may still take advantage of the scholarship by paying the difference.

NMC Director of Admissions Cathryn Claerhout said 1,038 applicants had been filed as of Sept. 30. Many of those still need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, if conversion from application to enrollment conforms to NMC’s patterns (79 percent this fall) it could translate into a significant enrollment increase in January.

“We’re delighted,” Claerhout said. “There’s a huge surge we could be seeing.”

Essential industries include health care, financial services, food and agriculture, law enforcement and first responders, water and wastewater, transportation and more. NMC is also offering virtual information sessions on completing the FAFSA Oct. 20, Nov. 7 and 20 and Dec. 10. Applicants can also schedule a one-on-one FAFSA completion appointment.

Announced Sept. 10 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Futures for Frontliners has drawn more than 60,000 applicants statewide. The application period runs through December 31, 2020, with enrollment available beginning in January of 2021. Scholarship recipients may also choose to start in the summer or fall 2021 semesters.

In addition, NMC is also participating in Michigan Reconnect, another statewide program aimed at filling the state’s skills gap by helping adults over age 25 earn a degree or certificate. Beyond these two programs, NMC has more than 650 institutional scholarships available.

Claerhout said in the Grand Traverse region there are 19,000 adults over age 25 who do not have a degree. “We’ve got pockets of students, typically older students, that we have great potential (aid) for,” she said.

Those without a high school diploma or equivalency are eligible for services to help them prepare for and complete this credential and go on to a community college or job training program.

To apply and learn more about Futures for Frontliners, visit nmc.edu/frontliners.


Release date: October 6, 2020

For more information:

Diana Fairbanks
Executive Director, NMC Public Relations, Marketing & Communications
(231) 995-1019


Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. nmc.edu/non-discrimination