New Educational Opportunities for Unemployed Workers

Tuesday - 5/12/2009, 9:06am EDT

WFED's Jane Norris

As heard on sister station WTOP

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By Jane Norris
FederalNewsRadio

If you find yourself without a job, the key to success may be going back to school. The Federal Government has money available for job training, but how do you find out if you qualify?

Q: What are the requirements?

A: Most states require you to be searching for a job to be eligible for unemployment benefits but the Obama Administration is asking states to change to that requirement and allow people to qualify if they are in job training classes or attend a community college.

Q: In general, who would qualify for financial aid?

A: If you are currently unemployed, you may be eligible for federal financial aid. Eligibility for federal grant aid, such as Pell Grants, is need-based and depends on the total income of your family. Federal student loans are available regardless of your income level. Financial aid administrators at participating institutions have been urged to take an unemployed person's current economic circumstances into account when determining a student's eligibility for Pell Grants and other student assistance. Starting in July, the maximum Federal Pell Grant award for the 2009-2010 academic year is $5,350.

Q: It sounds like the Government is encouraging people to go back to school!

A: Americans with more education and training have more secure jobs and higher earnings and there are lower unemployment rates for people who have college degrees. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that on average, college grads earn 62% more than those who graduated High School. With jobs hard to find the Administration is saying that it may be a good time to consider going back to school.

For more information, see opportunity.gov, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job outlook for college graduates pdf, and the USA Today story Pell grants, other student aid can help older college students.

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