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New MI ECHO scholarship provides tuition-free pathway to GRCC for essential workers not eligible for federal financial aid

Nov. 19, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A new scholarship is providing a tuition-free pathway for essential workers not eligible for federal financial aid, putting a life-changing education within reach for more people.

The Michigan Equity, Courage, Hope, and Opportunity Scholarship – MI ECHO -- is designed to serve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, Temporary Protected Status immigrants, Special Immigrant Juveniles, and others who are excluded from most traditional financial aid opportunities.

The scholarship is funded by private donors and philanthropic organizations and administered by the Michigan College Action Network, a Lansing-based advocacy group focused on increasing college readiness, participation and completion, especially among low-income, first-generation college students as well as students of color.

MI ECHO is for people who cannot access federal financial aid and who worked in an essential job during the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with the March 2020 shutdown. Candidates must live in Michigan and be eligible for acceptance into a certificate or associate degree program and cannot have previously earned an associate or bachelor's degree in any country.

It can be used as early as the Winter 2022 semester, and registration for classes is now open.

“Our community grows stronger when everyone has access to higher education,” said Tina Hoxie, GRCC’s associate provost and dean of Student Affairs. “Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect have made it possible for thousands of people to start or restart their education at GRCC. The MI ECHO scholarship will help even more people gain new skills for careers, help their families and change their lives.”

The scholarship covers the cost of tuition, contact hours, and other mandatory fees to help students work toward a degree or earn a career-focused certificate. Applications may be submitted through Dec. 31, 2022. Funds are limited, so people interested in the scholarship are encouraged to apply as early as they are able.

Students must enroll in the associate degree or certificate program within six months of being accepted or reapply.

“We were excited to see how Gov. Whitmer’s Futures for Frontliners program changed the conversation around community college and brought in so many Michiganders who are eager to improve their economic opportunities through postsecondary education,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director.

“We designed MI ECHO to mirror that opportunity for workers who served in essential roles throughout the pandemic, but who are unable to access federal financial aid. MI ECHO honors the hard work of these individuals while investing in our workforce and moving us closer to our state’s Sixty by 30 goal.”

Information about applying is available through email at, calling (517) 316-1713 or online at


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