GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Community College nursing students can now have their final semester of tuition paid for if they sign up to work one year at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation.

The program is open to students in GRCC’s associate degree and practical nursing programs. Six of the 10 scholarships have been filled for the first group of students.

“When our students get help with tuition, they’re able to focus on their education and ultimately are better prepared for the workplace,” Michelle Richter, director of GRCC’s Nursing program, said in a statement.

Mary Free Bed said the program will direct more nurses into the workforce and improve patient services.

The U.S. needs more nurses, Mary Free Bed said, pointing to federal data suggesting there will be more than 203,000 registered nurse openings each year through 2031.

“The nursing shortage is felt here in Grand Rapids, as well as across the nation, so finding the talent, that’s really where we’re going to the schools to partner with them,” Robin VanderVeen, the nursing director with Mary Free Bed, said.

The goal is to make a broader impact at the hospital and beyond.

“College is expensive and wherever we can partner to help reduce that and bring on this talent for our teams is where we’re going to benefit our community,” VanderVeen said.

The GRCC already has a similar scholarship program through the University of Michigan Health-West. Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services also has a nursing academy program with 10 Michigan colleges that gives students up to $40,000 in tuition assistance if they work part-time at Pine Rest during school and two years full-time after graduation.