“Free” College for Union Members and Their Families


Eastern Gateway Community College is located in east-central Ohio, at the northern end of Ohio’s Appalachian region, where the population growth has remained flat or the populations has actually been declining. Beyond the basic population numbers, the population is aging, and the fracking boom has not replaced the jobs lost with the collapse of the coal and steel industries. So the obvious challenge for any college or university dependent on local enrollment is how to reach as many local students as possible and how to reach beyond the local student population in ways that will enhance the offerings to those students.

Eastern Gateway Community College did a pilot program with AFSCME affiliated workers in its region, and that program was so immediately successful that it has now been extended to all AFSCME-affiliated workers and their families nationwide.

Those workers and their families can enroll for “free” in several online programs offered by Eastern Gateway as long as they “apply for federal aid, use state benefits and take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs through their jobs.” The college then “provides ‘last dollar’ scholarships for any difference in price.”

An article written by Karen Farkas for Cleveland.com offers the following details:

“Eastern Gateway offers an associate of arts degree, which is sought by students who plan to transfer to a four-year college; an associate of business management and an associate of criminal justice. Students can also take courses that lead to certificates. The college is developing an online early childhood education course. . . .

“Online programs were revamped from 16-week to 8-week courses to make it easier for students to enroll and complete. . . .

“Since the program was announced in July, the union has received about 10,000 inquiries and about 2,000 applications, said union officials. About 600 out-of-state and 400 in-state students enrolled for classes that began this month.”


Karen Farkas’ complete article is available at: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2016/08/eastern_gateway_community_coll.html.



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