Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Will the Government Pay for Re-education?

Ever wonder if a different degree might land you a better job? That's what my friend Cindy was thinking about. She’s unemployed and thought about studying something in computers and getting a good paying job. The person in the financial aid office told her that she was prime candidate for government grants. Now Cindy was getting excited. She saw her future as promising.

In May the Pell Grant program was extended to the unemployed to help workers gain education that would make them more employable. It’s a rather sweet deal that can provide up to $5,350 for educational costs at community colleges, colleges and universities, and many trade and technical schools.

The grant is need-based is need-based and depends on the total income of your family. But for many unemployed it’s probably not so hard to meet the need requirement. Other criteria are that you must (1) not being in default on a federal student loan, (2) having a high school diploma, General Education Development (GED) equivalency or otherwise demonstrate your ability to benefit from the education or training offered, (3) be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and (4) Pell Grants are not available to students who have already received a bachelor's degree.

Number 4 is what got my friend. She not only has a bachelor’s degree, she has a master’s degree. Yet, she can’t afford to back to school. Even a low-interest student loan, which she could get, is not something she wants to think about. Taking on more debt is a frightening prospect.

The program doesn’t work for some other people that I know either. Again, they are over educated and unemployed. But I’m sure that there are many other people out there who could benefit from the Pell Grant program. To apply for a Pell Grant or other student financial aid go to FAFSA.

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