Update on Free College Program

2023 Summer/Fall Term Program Update: May 23, 2023

Eastern Gateway Community College – In July 2022, the U.S. Department of Education notified AFSCME’s Free College partner, Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC), that the program is in violation of federal rules regarding the administration of the Pell grant program. Both AFSCME and the college disagree with this determination and the college challenged the determination in court. In October, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio issued a preliminary injunction against the Department of Education restricting the Department from enforcing the termination of the Free College program until the Department provides EGCC with an opportunity to challenge the ruling through the Department’s internal procedures. The Court did not decide whether the Free College program is operating in accordance with Pell program rules but made the decision based on the Department’s failure to abide by its own procedures. The Department of Education has indicated it continues to believe the program is in technical violation of the rules and will follow proper procedures when it makes a formal ruling. Considering these developments, AFSCME ceased promotion of the program back in July 2022 out of an abundance of caution.

It is important to note that many AFSCME members qualify for Pell grants that may cover some or all of tuition costs so the out-of-pocket charges, if any, for tuition at EGCC or other community colleges or four-year colleges will be determined on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in learning more about EGCC and the possibility of future financial aid, please contact EGCC directly at 1-833-465-2505 or visit online. Learn more.

AFSCME encourages all prospective students to contact local community colleges where tuition rates may be lower than the out-of-state rates charged by EGCC. Every community college has financial aid counselors who can assist prospective students in obtaining Pell Grants and other scholarships.

AFSCME is also seeking to establish a new college program that provides affordable or no cost education for our members and meets with the approval of the Department of Education.

Central State University (bachelor’s completion) – CSU discontinued the Free College program on May 13. Beginning Summer of 2023, new and returning Union students may enroll in Central State University’s Union Global program. This is not a free program, but CSU is committed to providing students with low-cost and debt-free options to complete their college studies through a combination of need-based and merit-based awards to offset out-of-pocket costs. Learn more.

Paul Quinn College - PQC is no longer able to offer this benefit. Currently enrolled students may continue at their own cost. Questions about enrollment, eligibility and financial aid options may be directed to finaid@pqc.edu. Students who wish to withdraw from the college must complete a withdrawal form and submit to retention@pqc.edu.

Please continue to check this web page periodically for updates.