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Imagine what you can achieve with the AFSCME Free College Benefit.

There are always points in your career — and your life — in which you want to move forward. You want to improve; you want to feel inspired and reach new goals. Perhaps you want to qualify for a promotion, finish your degree, or enrich your life through learning. Whatever your motivation, a quality education can be the catalyst to get you where you want to go.

It’s AFSCME’s mission to give you every advantage to get ahead. That’s why we’ve partnered with Eastern Gateway Community College. Through the AFSCME Free College benefit, you and your family members can now earn an associate degree completely online–for FREE.

Learn how the AFSCME Free College benefit works »

Eastern Gateway is an accredited community college, a member of the University System of Ohio, and is one of the fastest-growing public colleges in the country. It’s an open access public college governed by the Ohio Board of Regents and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Why get your degree?

A degree makes a difference.

Decades ago, a high school education was enough to live out the American dream. But things have changed. There’s a skills gap in the U.S., and the country needs more qualified workers than it can find. Today’s work environments demand tech-savvy employees with strong skills and a broad knowledge of multiple disciplines – which is exactly what earning your degree helps you gain.

Higher education pays off.

Here’s proof: Over the past two decades, wages for college-educated workers have increased, while salaries for those with only a high school education have decreased. Additionally, lower education levels tend to correspond with higher unemployment rates.*

*Statements based on research from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Choose the degree that’s right for you.

No matter what field interests you, a degree can be the credential you need to receive a promotion, qualify for a raise, and advance your job-ready skills. In other words: A quality education can pay off.  According the US Department of Education, nearly half of all college students attend community colleges due to the welcoming, inclusive nature of schools like Eastern Gateway Community College.  EGCC is an open-access college serving a diverse student population with diverse needs, so whether you are a recent high school graduate or a returning adult learner, and whether you are interested in attending classes part-time or full-time, EGCC has several degree options that can help you meet your educational and career goals.

Click Here for a list of our online degree programs covered by the AFSCME free college benefit.

Associate of Arts (AA)

The online Associate of Arts (AA) degree is a two-year program which parallels the first two years of a Bachelor of Arts degree at most four-year institutions. As a student in the program, you’ll be able to choose electives that align with your interests and career goals. Depending upon your selection, you can progress into baccalaureate programs such as psychology, sociology, English, history, fine arts, communications, or other fields in the arts disciplines.

Associate of Criminal Justice

Eastern Gateway’s online Associate of Criminal Justice program is designed to arm you with the knowledge and skills necessary for employment in local, state, and federal agencies. It’s also structured to support your transfer to a four-year, degree-granting institution. Course topics include Criminal Investigation, Crisis Intervention, and Homeland Security.

Associate of Business Management

Choose Eastern Gateway’s online Business Management program and you can do more than build a strong understanding of business theory. You can develop the practical knowledge and skills important for success in various business-related roles: finance, marketing, operations, communications, accounting, and human resources, just to name a few. Course topics include Interpersonal Communications, Organizational Behavior, and Principles of Management.

Associate in Early Childhood Education
(Now available )

The Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education degree is your first step in building a foundation for success in the world of childcare. You will focus on important topics in early childhood, such as development, learning assessment, special learners, and instructional strategy.

Discover how AFSCME members are making Free Online College work for them.

The decision to go back to school can be intimidating, especially if you’ve been out of the classroom for a while. And yet, it’s a life-changing leap that many are taking — including your peers. That’s because AFSCME members never quit doing their best. And AFSCME never quits providing you with opportunities to improve — on the job and in your life.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what fellow AFSCME members say about the Free College benefit and their experience as online students:

Student Testimonials

"No matter how old you are, you're never too old to return to school...because it's never too late.

Being able to receive a degree is what makes it exciting to me – it's the outcome."

—Alforniece Chambliss, Eligibility Specialist – Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services

"This is a benefit. You may not see money in your pocket, but you're going to see money if you're putting a child, grandchild or yourself through college."

—Beverly Payne, Secretary – Cressline Schools

"Quitting is not an option for me. Failure is not an option for me, and if I quit, I'm showing that quitting is an option, and quitting is absolutely not acceptable. I've started something and I'm going to finish it."

—Rick Anderson, CO – Ohio State Penitentiary

For the latest success stories, click here »

Explore the benefits of online learning.

More job opportunities, better pay, and lower risk of unemployment. These are just a few of the many benefits of a college degree, and when you earn it online, you get the extra benefit of convenience. Not to mention, the online environment can be highly conducive to your individual learning style. If you enjoy online interaction through social media, chat, email, and other interactive communication, then online learning may be a natural fit for you.

How online learning works

Online learning is designed to accommodate your individual needs. Our online learning site lets you set your individual goals and schedule how quickly you want to complete your degree.


Balance: Go back to school while you continue to work.


Flexibility: Study and complete assignments on your schedule.

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Accessibility: Log in anytime, anywhere there's an Internet connection.


Credibility: Graduate from a respected, accredited academic institution.


Enrichment: Interact with classmates and professors from diverse backgrounds.


Assurance: All credits are transferable.

The best benefit of all: It’s free. Thanks to AFSCME’s Free College benefit, you and your family members can advance your education with no out-of-pocket cost.

Bottom line: Going back to school is more convenient than ever before. Log in during your lunch break. Listen to a lecture after you put the kids to bed. Complete an assignment when you get home from work. No matter your schedule, online learning can support it.

Learn how the AFSCME Free College benefit works.

Public service isn’t just a job. It’s a calling. The AFSCME Free College benefit recognizes your day in, day out commitment to your community. Through AFSCME Free College, you and your family members can earn an associate degree online from an accredited community college — with no out-of-pocket costs to you. And the process is simple.

Here's who qualifies for AFSCME's Free College benefit:

AFSCME members AFSCME members
Retired AFSCME members Retired AFSCME members
Family of AFSCME members* Family of AFSCME members*

The Free College Benefit covers any amount for tuition, fees or books that is not covered by Federal or Employer education grants.

Click here for additional information about how to apply.

*Family of AFSCME members are defined as children (or stepchildren), grandchildren (or step-grandchildren), spouses, domestic partners, and financial dependents.

Online Spring Classes Start In January 2018

Your dream of going back to school can become a reality. It all starts with the decision to take action.

Apply Now » Learn More »