Chelsea Taylor had just started a new job with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) when she spotted a brochure in her benefits packet that mentioned the Union Plus Free College program. She enrolled in accelerated classes to get an associate’s degree in Information Systems and hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree next.
Chelsea Taylor had just started a new job with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) in Orlando, Florida when a brochure in her benefits packet caught her eye. Taylor zeroed in on the Union Plus Free College benefit.
The Union Plus Free College Program partners with AFSCME and Eastern Gateway Community College to offer online courses and degree programs with no out-of-pocket cost to active or retired union members and their eligible family members, including spouses and children. Unemployed, furloughed and laid off union workers and their extended families are eligible to enroll.
Taylor liked the idea of getting a college degree without piling on thousands of dollars in student debt and acted fast. Within a few weeks she was set up and ready for class.
"Enrolling was easy,” she says. “They give you an advisor and it’s pretty straightforward."
Taylor is earning credits toward an associate degree in Business Management with a concentration in Information Systems. She plans to finish her degree this summer.
Taylor works full time for IUPAT Local 1010 training floor refinishing apprentices. She says the online learning platform gives her the flexibility she needs to be able to work while attending classes.
"It worked very well with my schedule," she says, adding that taking college courses while being a union employee is very doable.
"You have more free time than you think," she notes. "I found that if I spend one hour a day on my classes, a heavy course load like I have is not impossible."
To learn more about the Union Plus Free College Program and how to apply, visit unionplusfreecollege.org or call (888) 590-9009.
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