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free college benefit

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 Eastern Gateway Community College—resulting in cost savings of thousands of dollars!

Who is Eastern Gateway Community College?
Eastern Gateway Community College is a fully 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 25,000 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. SEIU is proud to partner with Eastern Gateway Community College to help eligible students fill the financial gap and earn a degree or certificate. 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 at Eastern Gateway Community College. 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?

Associate of Arts Degree
Business Management Degrees and Certificates with these focus areas: Labor Studies, Human Resources, Healthcare Management, Marketing, Advertising, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Digital and Social Media, Programming and Development, Information Systems, Data Science, Security, and Hospitality.
Teacher Education Degree (Associate of Arts)
Patient Navigator Certificate
Criminal Justice Degree
Paralegal Degree
Associate of Individualized Study Degree
(Students may enroll in EGCC’s other online programs, but costs may be associated.)

How do I qualify for the Free College Benefit?
EGCC is an open-access college, which means they welcome anyone with a high school diploma or GED regardless of past academic performance.

To receive the Free College Benefit, SEIU members will need to register on and sign in to learn how to enroll themselves or their family members in 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. EGCC does 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 Eastern Gateway Community College, 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?
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.

However, once you are enrolled as a student at EGCC, the college requires that students meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). The definition of this can be found on EGCC’s website, from your advisor or from your instructor.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP): A student must maintain at least a cumulative GPA of 2.0 and successfully complete 67% of courses attempted in every semester.

Is there a placement test?
The Free College Benefit at 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 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 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.

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, EGCC 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 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 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.

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