Scholarships Available For Newly Unemployed

By Staff

February 5, 2009

Laid-off workers are taking advantage of free or greatly reduced tuitions being offered at a growing number of colleges.

US News & World Report notes that scholarships for the jobless are being offered primarily at community colleges, generally cover a select group of programs, and don't cover fees, textbooks, or transportation. Yet many newly laid-off workers have viewed the opportunity to pursue new education as a godsend.

In Ohio's Lorain County Community College, the newly unemployed can take care of the school's "Make Your Layoff Pay Off" program, which allows full-time workers who have lost their jobs after January 1, 2008, to attend classes free. The Chronicle-Telegram interviewed Steve Bowers, 42, who recently lost his job as an electrician after 18 years, and is now hoping to complete an associate's degree at LCCC and possibly move into the computer networking field.

"We hope to provide a low-risk opportunity for recently laid-off workers to try out college or adult-learner programming," noted Stephanie Sutton, LCCC director of financial services, who was quoted in the article.

Frank DeCristina, 52, is taking advantage of a similar program being offered at Minnesota's Normandale Community College. DeCristina recently lost a job supervising computer assembly last year, and is now taking two free business courses offered at NCC. The classes have helped him rethink his job search strategy and resume.

In a similar move, Michigan Technological University recently announced plans to provide free retraining for displaced automotive engineers. WWJ Newsradio 950 reports that the school will offer a one-semester, three-credit course in advanced propulsion technology in order to educate workers about green automotive technologies, which includes working with hybrid vehicles.

The course, run in conjunction with General Motors Corp, and the Engineering Society of Detroit, is intended to teach highly desirable skills to automotive engineers, thereby giving them an edge for reentering the workforce.

"People who can create these advanced propulsion systems and calibrate them are rare and will be in great demand," quoted Terry Woychowki, executive director of General Motors North America vehicle chief engineers. "Despite the fact that the auto industry is going through difficult times, there will always be an auto industry, and consequently, a critical need in this area with a huge potential for growth."

Some other colleges offering free or reduced tuition to recently laid-off workers include:

Illinois: Oakton Community College

New Jersey: Bergen Community College, New Jersey City University, Passaic County Community College, and Middlesex County College

Pennsylvania: Bucks County Community College, Community College of Allegheny County, and Reading Area Community College

Minnesota: Anoka-Ramsey Community College

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