Local 562

Your Newest Union Benefit: Free College


Working families are getting squeezed in all kinds of ways these days, but few expenses are more frightening than higher education. Whether you’ve got kids graduating high school or you’re looking to move forward in your own career, you’ve probably wondered how you’ll manage to keep up with skyrocketing tuition costs.

There’s less to worry about thanks to a new benefit for AFSCME members and families. Effective this summer, every member or retiree member, as well as spouses, children, grandchildren and dependents of AFSCME members, can earn a two-year degree online for free.

That’s right — free college just for being a member in good standing.

AFSCME is partnering with Eastern Gateway Community College to provide all members and families access to their classes online. Eastern Gateway is an accredited, non-profit public institution with campuses serving eastern Ohio, but AFSCME members can enroll in the distance learning program from anywhere in the country. Right now you can earn an associate degree in Business Management or Criminal Justice, or you can complete an Associate of Arts program that can be transferred to a four-year college.

The enrollment process is simple. Just visit freecollege.AFSCME.org and verify your AFSCME membership. From there, you can fill out a simple Eastern Gateway application form and an online financial aid form.

You will be contacted by an enrollment advisor to help you with any questions you may have about enrollment. You may also contact your local or council. AFSCME members around the country are being trained to help one another through the process.

“Public service workers are passionate about their jobs. They strive to do better for their families and their communities, and they want their union’s help to grow personally and advance professionally,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders. “We know the important role education plays in the lives of so many working-class families — helping them learn new skills and climb the ladder of opportunity. This partnership will help public service workers and their families prosper, and live their best lives.”

This article was first published in the Summer 2016 edition of AFSCME Works. Click here to download the full magazine.

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