Ivy Tech to offer free tuition to volunteer first responders

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Becoming a first responder isn’t easy, especially when you have to volunteer hundreds of hours of your own time and go to school on your dime.

“To become a fireman, it takes so many hours to get all through your schooling, and that’s tough. It takes a lot of time away from your family,” said Elton Schafer, District 4 Chairman of the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association.

Ivy Tech Community College is doing something to change that.

Starting in January 2020, those serving or willing to serve as a volunteer firefighters or volunteer EMTs in Indiana may attend Ivy Tech Community College tuition-free at any of their campuses across the state of Indiana.

“Whether they are volunteer EMTs or volunteer firefighters, there’s free money for them to attend college and complete a degree,” said Jon Whitmar, department chair at Ivy Tech South Bend’s paramedic science and public safety department.

It’s called the volunteer firefighter scholarship. All you have to do is go to Ivy Tech Community College website, complete a free online application, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid application and request a letter from the fire department or medical provider you volunteer for confirming your voluntary status.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is you must be a degree-seeking student and you must keep your grades up.

“Whether it’s in the EMS and fire field or even if they decide to go on and do business or culinary or whatever you want to do, the funds are there for them to complete,” Whitmar said.

It is also there for anyone who never considered college as an option because they couldn’t afford it.

“To me, it really helps out the volunteer side of it because now, kids coming out of high school that really don’t have a good opportunity to go to college and stuff, it’s a free ride for them, but they've got to be a volunteer fireman,” Schafer said.

The Volunteer Firefighter Scholarship is being offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

To apply for the scholarship, click here.