MCO offers assistance to those who paid for academy or carrying debt from college

MCO is proud to announce two new programs to help members reduce the cost of higher education.

MCO is launching the Academy Debt Assistance Program and a general Student Debt Assistance Program.

The Academy Debt Assistance Program will disperse 20 awards of $500 each to current MCO members who paid out of pocket or got into debt to get their corrections training at a community college in 2014 or 2015. Switching to community colleges for training was a failed experiment, and MDOC returned to the paid academies in 2015. Get full details on the Academy Debt Assistance Program and an application here.

The Student Debt Assistance Program will award 20 grants of $500 each to current MCO members who have student loans from earning an undergraduate degree. Get full details on the Student Debt Assistance Program and an application here.

Here is more information you should know about both programs:

  • These programs will run on a trial basis this year.  After we assess their value to members and effectiveness, MCO may or may not offer them in future years.
  • Qualified applicants will be entered into a drawing (subject to change or alternate criteria) to win one of the awards.
  • You must have been an MCO member in good standing for at least six months prior to submitting your application.
  • You must apply online by June 15. If you apply by mail, your application must be postmarked by June 15.
  • Award winners will be notified in July.
  • Due to the volume of applications we expect to receive, incomplete applications will be automatically disqualified. That’s why we recommend you start the application process now so you have plenty of time to gather the required documentation and ask MCO any questions you may have. Questions should be directed to Tara Nichol with MCO Member Benefits. Email tara@mco-seiu.org or call (517)485-3310 ext. 150.

MCO leaders have decided to try these programs this year because we need to do something to address the challenges of our time. If we don’t do it, no one else will. We have asked the MDOC and the legislature many times over the years to reimburse the COs who had to pay out of pocket for training other officers have received for free. They have not been receptive. It’s time we take action ourselves.

College debt was one of the most-discussed topics at MCO’s member listening sessions over the past few years. Members said the strain caused by college and other financial burdens worries them and their families. MCO leaders and staff started to brainstorm more ways to help members with this challenge. For nearly two decades, MCO has offered a scholarship program that has been very popular among members. Since its start in 2001, the scholarship program has helped 360 members send their children to college. Also this year,  MCO introduced a free online college benefitNow we are, on a trial basis, expanding our higher education assistance to members and their families to make an even greater positive impact on your lives.

We know we face many challenges at this time, including trivial discipline. We are continuing to defend members’ interests on all fronts. We can fight for our rights in the workplace and, at the same time, think outside the box about innovative ways we can improve the lives of members and their families.

A strong union can help members and their families in ways that are beyond the scope of the contract. We can and should provide programs that have a positive impact on members and their families. All of us should be rethinking what a union is and what it can do for each of us.

Thanks, members, for your support.

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