Norwalk Community College urges unemployed workers to consider taking advantage of new opportunities for education and training available to them. On May 8, President Obama announced that workers getting unemployment insurance (UI) benefits will receive special consideration for financial aid to pay for job training or education. You may also be able to keep your UI benefits while enrolled. Studies have shown that workers with more education and training have more secure jobs and higher wages.
Federal Pell Grant scholarships cover up to $5,350 in education and training expenses. They are accepted at nearly all community colleges, colleges and universities, and many trade and technical schools. Even if you do not qualify for a Pell Grant, you may be eligible for other aid.
Applying for financial aid and finding training are not difficult. The Departments of Education and Labor have created a single web site, www.opportunity.gov, where you can find helpful information. If you are interested in pursuing these opportunities, here are the steps you should
• Decide what type of training best meets your needs. You may want to visit www.careeronestop.org or visit your local community college or One-Stop Career Center for help in identifying potential education and training opportunities. To locate the nearest One-Stop Career Center, you may call the toll free number: 1-877-US-2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627) for assistance or visit www.servicelocator.org.
• Colleges or One-Stop Career Centers can also help you apply for Pell Grant scholarships and other federal financial aid. An application is also available at www.fafsa.gov or by calling 1-800-4FEDAID. While you will need to report last year’s income when applying, your school can adjust your eligibility to reflect your current circumstances.
• After you’ve applied for financial aid, go to the financial aid office at any eligible college, university or trade school that interests you. If you are currently receiving unemployment benefits, make sure to bring evidence, like a check stub. States also will be sending out special letters to unemployment beneficiaries that you may be able to bring to a financial aid office for up to 90 days.
• Finally, make sure to contact your local One-Stop Career Center in advance of enrolling to ensure that you can continue to receive unemployment benefits while enrolled in the program you have chosen. Not every training program excuses you from the requirement that you be seeking and available for work in order to receive unemployment benefits.
For more information, view “Questions and Answers for Unemployed Americans Interested in Education and Training” at: www.opportunity.gov.