More students in Southwest Ohio have the opportunity to gain work experience while having their college tuition paid for, thanks to an expansion of Miami University’s Work+ program and the recent addition of three local employers, including Worthington Industries, YMCA of Greater Dayton, and FastestLabs. The innovative, modern-day apprenticeship program allows students to graduate with a Miami degree debt-free while simultaneously helping local employers staff hard-to-keep-filled positions.
“Work+ is an innovative and unique experiential learning opportunity because business needs drive the program and higher education provides the wraparound services that empower students to succeed on the job and in the classroom,” said Miami University President Gregory Crawford. “It is a win-win-win partnership for students, companies and our society.”
As others have grappled with proposals for “free college” and debt forgiveness, Miami has pioneered a model that allows students to graduate with a Miami degree debt-free: students are hired into entry level positions, working about 24 hours a week and committing to the company for one year at a time. The Work+ employers provide an hourly wage and pay the tuition and general fees for each of their Work+ students.
Launched in 2019 with four companies Work+ has expanded to eight Ohio employers supporting more than 25 students this year. More than 40 students have joined the program since its inception and the program boasts its students’ 3.43 average GPA and 87% credit completion rate.
“The benefits for the companies include not only the opportunity to reduce attrition costs in high-turnover entry level positions, but also to bring in employees who are motivated to succeed and learn the new skills. It is also an opportunity to make an impact in the local community,” said Ekaterina Gay, director of Work+.
The program aims to make higher education available for a far broader population of students and families seeking ways to afford college.
“The Work+ model not only makes ‘free college’ for the student a reality – it launches graduates into the dynamic workforce with a four-year résumé, sought-after real-world experience and leadership acumen,” President Crawford said.