Free College Member Only Benefit

FreeCollegeflyerWith the SEIU 517M Free College Benefit, individuals choosing to become members of the union are instantly eligible for unique educational advantages. In partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College, SEIU 517M members and their families can earn an Associates Degree or Certificate online without having to pay for tuition, fees or ebooks.

  • Online classes let you balance life’s demands, making it possible to go back to school while you continue to work.
  • Graduate from a respected and accredited institution with the assurance that credits and coursework are transferable to colleges and universities all over the country.
  • You can choose either 8 week or 16 week classes, and 24/7 access means you can work on assignments anytime day or night.

About Eastern Gateway Community College
Established in 1968, Eastern Gateway Community College is a state, public, accredited institution, that offers flexible opportunities for students in all walks of life. From degree seekers, to those climbing the career ladder, EGCC has a wide variety of degree programs, certificates and courses to best fit your academic and professional needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:        What is the Free College Benefit?

A:            The Free College Benefit is an investment in you and your future.  With the Free College Benefit SEIU Local 517M members and their families do not have to pay out of pocket for any tuition, fees or e-books at Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC)—resulting in cost savings of thousands of dollars!

The benefit works as a “last-dollar scholarship”, or grant, through Eastern Gateway Community    College, that is intended to fill the gap between any federal, state or employer sponsored education grants members may receive and the cost of tuition, fees and e-books for certain online degree programs at Eastern Gateway Community College.

Q:        Who can receive the Free College Benefit?

A:            The Free College Benefit is open to members in good standing, who are full dues-paying members, retired members and their families. Family is defined as spouses, children, stepchildren, dependents and grandchildren. Membership will be verified by the union during enrollment at EGCC.

Q:        Does my dues money pay for this program?

A:            No. This program is available through a partnership between SEIU and Eastern Gateway Community College. As stated above, the benefit is a “last dollar scholarship” and dues money is not used to supplement this program and is not responsible for its funding.

Q:        Which programs are offered through the scholarship program?

A:            Detailed program information can be found at:, however, available free programs include coursework in the following disciplines: Business Management Degrees in Advertising, Cyber Security, Data Science, Digital and Social Media, Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Healthcare Management, along with degrees in Hospitality: Food and Beverage Management, Hospitality: Hotel and Event Management, Human Resources Management, Information Systems, Labor Studies, Marketing, Programming & Development, Associate of Arts, Criminal Justice, Teacher Education Degree, Paralegal, Patient Home Navigator.

Q:        This seems too good to be true, is this for real?

A:            It is for real and dues paying members have been taking advantage of this great opportunity since Fall 2015. Over 6,000 students have enrolled at EGCC through this program.

Q:        What’s the catch?

A:            No catch, but eligibility requires that potential students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as apply for and use any state, federal, employer or military tuition reimbursement or assistance for which they have eligibility.

Q:        Why do I have to complete the FAFSA if it’s free?

A:            While the Free College benefit means you can attend EGCC with no out-of-pocket cost, it does require an investment of your time and help.

The Free College benefit is a last-dollar scholarship; therefore, you are required to fill out a FAFSA first and use any federal or state aid you may receive toward your tuition, fees and e-books.

This means it is free to you and there are no out of pocket cost for tuition, fees, or e-books. It does not cover pencils, computers, computer access, internet, etc.

Q:        How do I qualify for the Free College Benefit?

A:            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. To receive the Free College Benefit, participating unions’ members (or their family members) who want to enroll in EGCC’s online programs must provide certain information that is requested directly by the college. Interested members can also call 888-590-9009 if they have questions.

Q:        Why is my union offering this benefit?

A:            One of our members biggest concerns is the cost of college for themselves and their loved ones. It is a fact, that only half of Americans who begin college will be able to finish, largely due to financial and work/life barriers. With this benefit, unions have found a way to help members and their families begin to alleviate this worry and financial strain.

Q:           What if I leave my union? Can I still take advantage of this program for free under Right-to-Work (RTW) laws?

A:            Absolutely Not! The union has created this amazing program as a benefit of membership and it is not accessible to individuals who opt out of or choose not to pay union dues. Right-to-Work laws do not grant you access to any of SEIU Local 517M’s membership benefits or exclusive discounts.

Q:        I want to find out more. What do I do next?

A:            Visit the SEIU Member Benefits website. You may also call 888-590-9009 to talk to an enrollment advisor.

You must complete the EGCC application, the FAFSA and supply needed documentation such as a high school transcript and any verification documents required to determine federal or state grant eligibility. Your enrollment advisor can walk you through each step along the way.

To get started please complete the following:

  • Visit
  • Apply to EGCC. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit any required verification. Any grant award must be applied to the tuition, fees and e-book charges at EGCC.
  • Agree to use any employer tuition assistance.
  • Verify High School or GED completion by submitting proof of High School graduation or GED completion to EGCC.
  • Students who do not complete the FAFSA and any required verification will need to make payment arrangements with EGCC.

* Students who are currently in default on their Federal student loans must first ensure their loans are in rehabilitation in order to receive the scholarship. If a student falls into default during a term in which they are enrolled in EGCC, the student must take steps to rehabilitate their loans before continuing to receive the Free College Benefit.

Students are invited to call the EGCC Financial Aid office for help on this subject at 740-266-9619. They can also call the U.S. Department of Education directly at 800-621-3115.

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