Ivy Tech offering free tuition to volunteer firefighters


The Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association and Ivy Tech Community College continue to partner to give volunteer first responders across Indiana the chance to earn a two-year associate degree tuition-free.

Ivy Tech has started to see enrollments using the scholarship and expects to see more leading up to the start of classes Jan. 13.

What first started as an idea from state District 44 Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, and state District 67 Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, turned into a new program to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters in an effort to address the growing shortage of first responders, particularly in Indiana’s rural areas.

Frye introduced House Bill 1064, which was sponsored by Koch in the Senate. It established an Ivy Tech scholarship fund, and the intent was to provide scholarship funds to volunteer first responders attending any program at Ivy Tech. The bill passed the House but was not heard in the Senate.

Ivy Tech stepped in and has committed to provide $250,000 over two years to pay for tuition and fees for volunteer first responders to attend academic programs with the exception of flight aviation and general studies.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” said Ivy Tech Community College President Sue Ellspermann. “We hope that piloting the scholarship program will give other potential funders the information and inspiration to continue to fund a statewide program beyond these next two years.”

On Tuesday, Ellspermann and Koch joined together at the Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Department near Bedford to announce the scholarship opportunity and to thank members for their vital volunteer service.

Ellspermann and Koch were joined by members of the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association, including Steve Anderson, past president and board chairman, and David Israel, vice president and president-elect.

"Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of public safety in our rural areas. I commend Ivy Tech for fulfilling this vision to both strengthen public safety and improve access to higher education in our communities,” Koch said.

As long as a volunteer first responder is enrolled as a degree-seeking student and holds good standing with a volunteer fire department, the individual may be eligible to receive a two-year associate degree for free. This offer applies to future and current Ivy Tech students; however, students must maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain eligible.

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For information, visit ivfa.org or ivytech.edu/volunteer.


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