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Work+ gives Miami Regionals students free tuition, books and housing

Miami University has introduced a program that creates a new path for students to earn their college degree debt-free.

The work+ program, which will be introduced in the fall, allows students to attend either of Miami's regional campuses while working part-time for one of four partnering companies: Deceuninck North America, LLC (Monroe) which focuses on the design and compounding of vinyl window and door systems, The Fischer Group (Fairfield) which focuses on product development and machine building, thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America, Inc. (Hamilton) which focuses on the manufacturing of shock absorbers and Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA) which provides transportation for residents of Butler County.

Interested students must first apply to Miami Regionals and submit an interest form for the work+ program, then apply for and secure a job with one of the four partnering companies. Accepted applicants are required to enroll in school full-time and work a minimum of 24 hours a week for the duration of time it takes them to complete their associates or bachelor degree.

Students employed by Miami are allowed to work a maximum of 22 hours weekly. The work+ program allows these students to work more hours without restrictions.

In return for the students' employment, the participating company will pay the remaining balance of tuition after all financial aid grants and scholarships have been awarded. Miami will cover the cost of books and potential housing. Students are then also paid weekly by their employer.

Deceunick's president was at a social event with Miami University President Greg Crawford when the discussion of a partnership between the two organizations began, said Amy Padgett, Deceunick's vice president of human resources. Deceunick wanted to advertise job openings to Miami students who were looking for part-time work while in school.

"If this program allows us to have good workers and help students get their degree without incurring additional debt, we think it's a good thing," Padgett said.

Deceunick's interview process began this week, and although no one has officially been hired, they hope to have about 20 students working for them in the fall.

Students enrolled in the Miami program can change their majors at any time without impacting their participation in work+, said Peter Haverkos, senior assistant dean for student and academic success. These students are also not required to commit to a full-time job with the company after they graduate.

As long as students remain in good standing with the university, they will be allowed to participate in the program.

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