College affordability 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.

We are proud to now offer dues-paying members four college affordability programs:

Free Online College

Free Online Community College is for any dues-paying member or family of dues-paying members. It’s offered through Eastern Gateway Community College in Ohio. The program is free online and includes all fees and e-books. Get the credits you need for the training academy, earn your associate degree, or get a leg up on your bachelor’s degree.

MCO Scholarship Program

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 nearly 400 members send their children to college. Every year, the program awards 20 scholarships of $500 each.

Academy Assistance Program

This program is for 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.

Student Debt Assistance Program

The Student Debt Assistance Program is for current MCO members who have student loans from earning an undergraduate degree.


We aren’t offering a “one-size-fits-all” approach; instead, we are providing members and their families the reassurance of knowing there is assistance available from MCO, no matter what path they decide to take toward higher education.

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.