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NJ Member Goes Back to School Thanks to the Free College Benefit

Eastern Gateway Community College
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Jamika Flowers, dressed in her cap and gown, proudly walked across the stage at Eastern Gateway Community College to receive her associate of arts degree on May 18.

Flowers, a member of Local 2208 (AFSCME New Jersey) said she owed part of this achievement to the AFSCME Free College benefit. When she decided to enroll for the spring semester, she didn’t qualify for any financial aid at first. Like many other college hopefuls, she didn’t want the burden of student loans to further her education. However, thanks to AFSCME Free College, she was able to register without fear of taking on debt.

“I recommend [it to] everyone who can apply. It’s open to members, their families and even retiree members. It’s a great opportunity at no cost to you. You don’t even have to pay for books. Everything was completely free,” explained Flowers.

Working at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital as a principal social service aide since 2003, she enrolled at EGCC for the spring semester in 2018. The AFSCME Free College benefit enabled her to successfully transfer all the credits she previously earned from Mercer County Community College in New Jersey.

Since the program was launched in July 2016, 12,825 AFSCME members and family members have taken advantage of the AFSCME Free College benefit. By the end of this school year, 570 students will have graduated.  

The areas of study are steadily evolving. For Fall 2019, professional office management has been added to the list of offerings

“I had a few classes that I would call my favorites, but if I had to narrow it down to one, it would have to be interpersonal communications. It not only taught me how others communicate, it also taught me how I communicate and how to communicate more effectively,” Flowers said.

The AFSCME Free College Benefit is open to all AFSCME members and retiree members, as well as children, grandchildren, stepchildren, step-grandchildren, spouses, domestic partners, siblings, parents and financial dependents of AFSCME members.

“This opportunity has helped me get one step closer to my educational goals and I will forever be grateful,” Flowers said. “I hope one day I can give back to the community like AFSCME has helped me.”

To apply, go here: https://freecollege.afscme.org/