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Free College Benefit and Central State University

SEIU Free College Benefit Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SEIU Free College Benefit?
The SEIU Free College Benefit is an investment in you and your future. With the Free College Benefit, SEIU members and their families do not have to pay out of pocket for any tuition, fees or e-books at Central State University or Eastern Gateway Community College—resulting in cost savings of thousands of dollars!

Who is Central State University?
Central State University (CSU) is a regionally accredited, public, land grant college located in Wilberforce, OH. The college is part of the University System of Ohio, governed by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the accreditor of most public and private institutions in the Midwest.

CSU is committed to innovation and increasing quality educational opportunities for students all across the country through its online programs. CSU’s faculty is union-represented by the AAUP.

Who is Eastern Gateway Community College?
Eastern Gateway Community College is an accredited, public, open-access college located in Steubenville and Youngstown, OH. The college is part of the University System of Ohio, governed by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the accreditor of most public and private institutions in the Midwest.

EGCC is committed to innovation and increasing quality educational opportunities for students all across the country through its online programs. The staff of EGCC is union-represented by the Ohio Education Association.

Students have been taking advantage of the Free College Benefit since Fall 2015, and over 55,000 students in every US state and territory have enrolled at EGCC through this program.

How does the program work?
Federal, state, and employer grants don’t always cover the full cost of earning a degree online, so the Free College program helps eligible students fill the financial gap and earn a degree or certificate. SEIU is proud to partner with colleges who are committed to helping working adults earn their degree with no cost! The program works as a “last-dollar scholarship,” or grant, and is intended to fill the gap between any federal, state or employer education grants you receive and the cost of tuition, fees and e-books for certain online degree programs. While it won’t cost you a penny, it does require an investment of your time and attention!

Who can receive the Free College Benefit?
The SEIU Free College Benefit is open to members in good standing who are full dues-paying members and their families. Family is defined as spouses, children, stepchildren, grandchildren, parents, siblings, and financial dependents.

Which programs are offered through the scholarship program?
CSU –Bachelor's Degree Completion programs in:

  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education – Early Childhood Education
  • Education - Intervention Specialist
  • Interdisciplinary Studies/Humanities

To enroll in CSU’s Bachelor’s Degree completion programs, students must have earned an Associate Degree or 60 college credits in their major with a 2.2 GPA or higher. Students who haven’t met that goal will be able to take the necessary pre-requisite courses at EGCC at no cost. Courses are transferable and will count toward your degree at CSU!

EGCC – Associate’s Degrees and Certificates in:

  • Business Management Degrees and Certificates in these subject areas: Labor Studies, Human Resources, Healthcare Management, Marketing, Advertising, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Digital and Social Media, Programming and Development, Information Systems/IT Help Desk, Data Analytics, Hospitality, Operations and Logistics, and Project Management.
  • Social Work
  • Health Services
  • Accounting
  • Teacher Education Degree (Associate of Arts)
  • Patient Health Navigator Certificate
  • Criminal Justice Degree
  • Paralegal Degree
  • Associate of Individualized Study Degree
  • Healthcare Administration (Associate of Arts)
  • Paralegal Certificate

Students may enroll in EGCC’s other online programs, but costs may be associated.

How do I qualify for the Free College Benefit?
To receive the Free College Benefit, SEIU members will need to register on seiumb.com and sign in to learn how to enroll themselves or their family members in CSU’s and EGCC’s online programs. SEIU members may complete an inquiry form on behalf of their family members.

What do you mean by domestic partner and financial dependents?
Spouses or domestic partners (someone living with you in a committed relationship), your children, children-in-law, grandchildren, parents, siblings, and financial dependents all can take advantage of the benefit. A financial dependent is someone for whom you have financial responsibility. CSU and EGCC do not assess the level of financial dependence or the definition of domestic partner.

How do I maintain my Free College benefit?
Once you receive the Free College benefit to cover the cost of tuition, fees and e-books at CSU and EGCC, you must comply with all academic, conduct, attendance and financial aid policies as required by the college, the state of Ohio and the U.S. Department of Education in order to continue to receive the benefit for each semester in which you enroll in classes toward your degree. You must also continue to be a full dues-paying member of your union (or an eligible family member), or a retiree. You are also required to complete the FAFSA, including any required verification, for every new academic year.

Are there any academic requirements to receive the benefit?
EGCC: Your previous academic record does not affect whether you initially can receive the Free College benefit. EGCC is an open-access college, which means you only need to have a high school degree or GED equivalent to be accepted to the EGCC degree programs. No placement exam or entrance exam is required.

CSU: Students who have earned an Associate Degree or 60 or more college credits in their major, with a 2.2 GPA or higher, may enroll in the Bachelor’s Degree completion programs at CSU. Students not yet meeting that goal will be able to take their first courses at EGCC and transfer into CSU.

Is there a placement test?
The Free College Benefit at CSU and EGCC does not require a placement test. However, if you are worried about how you will handle college-level courses, your advisor can work with you on which classes to choose, as well as some resources to help you get ready for courses.

Is there a time limit on the SEIU Free College Benefit?
The SEIU Free College Benefit is an individual scholarship and amounts vary based on the student’s cost of tuition, fees and e-books at CSU or EGCC. The scholarship will be renewed each term as long as the student (or the family member) is a full, dues-paying union member (or retiree), and the student maintains satisfactory academic progress as defined by CSU and EGCC and the U.S. Department of Education for federal financial aid. Students can attend part-time or full-time. As long as the student is actively participating and working toward their degree, there is no time limit for degree completion. Students must, however, complete the FAFSA and any required verification, for each new academic year. While EGCC does allow for students to take a semester or term off, CSU does require continuous enrollment from semester to semester.

Do I have to pay any money back if I don’t complete my class or program?
No. As long as you are enrolled in a Free College program, the college has your current year FAFSA and any and all required verification forms, and you follow the rules of the college, you won’t incur a bill for your tuition, fees or books. You don’t have to be with the union or your job for any set time period – you just need to be a member in good standing or an eligible family member at the time you start your classes. You don’t have to pay back the scholarship if you move out of the union or your job.

Will my union see the information on my FAFSA?
Only the U.S. Department of Education, CSU and EGCC will know your grant status. Your privacy is protected.

Can I take just one class?
Yes, you may take one class at a time. To be eligible for the scholarship, which is a form of financial aid, you must enroll in a degree program at CSU or EGCC. However, the programs are flexible in that you can take one class at a time.

What if I need to pause my studies?
A student may withdraw from a class prior to the withdrawal deadline each semester. Students are required to contact the financial aid office prior to withdrawal deadline in order to see what impact it might have on their federal financial aid and/or scholarship. This will not prevent you from enrolling in a subsequent term at EGCC. CSU requires continuous enrollment from term to term, but hardship cases are reviewed.

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Member Testimonial
SEIU Free College for America Testimonial

"SEIU is investing in you and your future and now it’s time that you do the same!" "I’m forever grateful for this opportunity…"

-Denee, SEIU HCIIMK

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