By AMANDA GHANNAM, Staff Writer
Do you know any public safety employees, such as police or correctional officers, who want to go back to school? Maybe you have a brother, sister, or cousin working in law enforcement who might be interested in taking more classes, but is held back by the rising costs of tuition (previously reported on in the Michigan Journal.) Did you know the University of Michigan-Dearborn can help make it possible for them to return to school?
UM-Dearborn’s Community Service Personnel Scholarship helps public safety officers from participating police departments attain undergraduate or graduate degrees at a reduced price. The scholarships account for 20 percent of every semester’s tuition and fees for officers.
Currently, UM-Dearborn hosts forty officers from police departments in twelve participating municipalities: Allen Park, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Lathrup Village, Novi, Southfield, Taylor, Trenton, Wyandotte, Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
Lathrup Village is the newest police department to enter into the partnership with the university; just last month, a signing ceremony attended by Lathrup Village Chief of Police, William Armstrong, took place on campus to seal the deal.
“It [the program] has been very much embraced by both the officers in local law enforcement and by the University,” said Susan Cushnier, Academic Outreach Director at the College of Arts, Sciences, & Letters.
The program has been in place since Fall 2009. Here’s a brief overview of how the program works: First, the employee of one of the participating police departments applies for admission, and if criteria are met, is admitted. Many police departments also provide officers with tuition support programs, so the employee follows the regular process used by his or her department. Next, he or she must request an employment verification letter from his or her Human Resources Department, to be faxed to the University’s Office of Financial Aid. Last, when the Office of Financial Aid receives the letter, it will award the Community Service Personnel Scholarship by posting it to the student’s account.
The scholarship will amount to 20 percent of the total tuition and fees for the semester, so depending on factors such as the number of credit hours a student enrolls in, scholarships will come in different amounts. The university projects an average cost of $10,854 in tuition and fees for one academic year (fall and winter semesters.) A 20 percent scholarship on this amount would come to about $2,173 in savings. In addition, if the police department at which a student works offers a tuition reimbursement program, the UM-Dearborn scholarship works in conjunction with the police department’s program to provide maximum aid to each student/public safety employee.
Cushnier and one of the managers of the community partnership program, said that the university plans to pursue partnerships with more police departments in the future. The program strengthens relationships between educational and public service institutions, helping UM-Dearborn and local police departments learn from each other to serve local communities in more and more positive ways.