UFCW’s Free College Benefit

The UFCW’s Free College Benefit is designed to help UFCW members and their families balance work and home life. You can attend school part-time or full-time – whichever fits your schedule. All you need to get started is a high school degree or GED, and there are no entrance exams to worry about.

The UFCW Free College Benefit ensures that UFCW members and their families do not have to pay out of pocket for any tuition, fees, or e-books.

Children (or stepchildren), grandchildren (or step-grandchildren), spouses, domestic partners, and financial dependents of UFCW members are eligible for the UFCW Free College Benefit. Retired UFCW members are also eligible

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The UFCW Free College Benefit just got better!

The program started as a two-year associate degree program through Eastern Gateway Community College and expanded to include a full four-year bachelor’s degree program, allowing students to earn their degrees through Central State University.

NEW! UFCW Free College continues to see significant demand for Bachelor’s Degree completion programs. To help ensure UFCW can accommodate as many students as possible who meet the qualifications, students will have the additional option to enroll with the Free College Benefit in Franklin University, an accredited non-profit University in Ohio, in certain programs.

Apply Now Programs

Now Enrolling

Now Enrolling for Classes Starting Jan 10, 2022

New Program

Cannabis Business Fundamentals Program

See all Associate Degree Programs offered through Eastern Gateway Community College

Associate Degree Programs


You can now complete your Bachelor’s Degree for FREE!

Bachelor’s Degree Programs offered through Central State University

  • Teacher Education
  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities

Learn more about Central State University

Bachelor’s Degree Programs offered through Franklin University

  • Management and Leadership
  • Criminal Justice
  • Social Science

Learn more about Franklin University



Students who have earned an Associate Degree or at least 60 credits with a 2.2 GPA or better in the field of study. Students needing pre-requisite classes or to boost their GPA can enroll in the Free College pathway programs with Eastern Gateway Community College.

Learn More about Eligibility

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can receive the Free College Benefit?

The UFCW Free College Benefit is open to retired UFCW members, UFCW members in good standing who are full dues paying members, and their families. Family is defined as spouses, children, stepchildren, children-in-law, dependents and grandchildren. Potential students’ membership will be verified by UFCW.

How does it work?

Eligibility requires that potential students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, as well as apply for and use any employer or military tuition reimbursement or assistance for which they have eligibility. Once the FAFSA is completed, the college may require that additional documentation be submitted, for a process called verification that is required by the US Department of Education. All members must comply with the document requests by EGCC in order to complete the financial aid process to determine eligibility for federal aid.

How do I qualify for the Free College Benefit?

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, UFCW members (or their family members) who want to enroll in EGCC’s participating online programs will need to complete the following steps.  All steps can be found on at www.ufcwfreecollege.org.

  • 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 having official transcripts sent 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 directly to the U.S. Department of Education 800-621-3115.

Why is UFCW offering this benefit?

One of UFCW members’ biggest concerns is the cost of college. Today, only half of Americans who begin college will be able to finish, largely due to financial and work/life barriers. With this benefit, UFCW has found a way to help members and their families begin to alleviate this worry.

This program started successfully with labor unions including UFCW locals in Ohio. The response from our members was so great, that we wanted to expand this benefit to all members of our union family. UFCW and EGCC are committed to helping adult and returning students be successful in earning their degree, which can lead to increased career opportunities.

Is this for real? It sounds like a scam.

It is for real and students have been taking advantage of this great opportunity since Fall 2015. Over 5,000 students have enrolled at EGCC through this program. Already hundreds of UFCW members have begun their classes with the UFCW Free College benefit.

What is the UFCW Free College Benefit in partnership with Central State University?

The UFCW Free College Benefit is an investment in you and your future.  With the UFCW Free College Benefit, union members and their families do not have to pay out of pocket for any tuition, fees or e-books at for the online Bachelor’s Degree Completion programs at Central State University —resulting in cost savings of thousands of dollars!

How does the bachelor completion programs at Central State University work?

The academic programs are intended for students who already have an Associate Degree or 60 credits or more in the intended major.

If you have an associate degree in your requested major from an accredited institution, you may be able to start with junior level courses in the requested curriculum at Central State University.

If you do not have an associate degree in your requested major from an accredited institution, you may need to complete general education requirements and/or pre-requisite requirements.  You will have the option to do so through the UFCW Free College Benefit associate degree program at Eastern Gateway Community College. An evaluation of your transcript(s) will determine the courses that are acceptable for transfer equivalencies.

How do the Central State University bachelor completion programs offered through the UFCW Free College Benefit “work with” the Eastern Gateway Community College associate degree programs also offered through the HSTA Higher Education Benefit?

Members will work with enrollment specialists to determine their degree pathway.  As a general rule, members already holding an associate degree in their chosen field (Business, Education, or Criminal Justice) will be directed by their enrollment advisor to apply for the appropriate degree at Central State University as part of the Bachelor’s Degree Completion program.  Because the program is a bachelor completion program, certain prerequisite courses must be part of the student’s transcript before they will be admitted to the program.

Students who do not hold an associate degree in their field, or whose transcript is missing the prerequisite courses, will be guided to apply to Eastern Gateway Community College to complete their associate degree, or to complete the prerequisite courses to qualify them for admission into the Central State programs.

Tell me about Eastern Gateway Community College.

Eastern Gateway Community College is a public, open-access college located in Steubenville, Ohio, with sites in Youngstown and Warren. The college is part of the University System of Ohio and regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. EGCC is committed to innovation and increasing quality educational opportunities for students in Ohio and across the country. The staff of EGCC is union represented.

EGCC is one the fastest growing colleges in Ohio. The school is a national Achieving the Dream Leader College, an American Association of Community Colleges School of Excellence, and recognized nationally for its efforts to prepare a diverse student population for career success. They are also transfer-friendly, which means they strive to accept previous college credits students may have earned elsewhere.

What programs are offered through the scholarship program?

For detailed program information, please visit the program section of on the website www.ufcwfreecollege.org.

Current offerings include:

  • Associate of Arts Degree
  • Business Management Degree and Certificate
  • Including concentrations in
  • Human Resources
  • Healthcare Management
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Accounting
  • Early Childhood Education Degree
  • Patient Navigator Certificate
  • Criminal Justice Degree
  • Paralegal Degree
  • Associate of Individualized Study Degree

Another Good Reason to Join UFCW 99!

Put yourself and your family through college for free!

  • If you’re a UFCW member, your entire family (children, grandchildren, spouse, domestic partner, etc.) can earn a FREE bachelor’s degree or associate degree online.

  • Work towards a bachelor’s degree or associate degree or certificate completely online, for FREE!

  • No costs to you – You will not have to pay for tuition, fees or e-books. Additional financial aid options are available for education-related costs.


Want to earn your GED? Every UFCW member can take GED classes for free.

Learn More about GED