How to Apply for a College Grant if You Are Receiving Unemployment Benefits
Unemployed workers in 2013 may qualify for grants to help them. If you’ve been unemployed, it may be a good time to go back to school. However, many unemployed people wonder whether they will be able to continue to receive unemployment compensation benefits if they start attending college or special job training or other education.
There are now new educational and training opportunities available for unemployed people. U.S. President Barack Oboma announced that now workers who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits will receive special consideration for financial aid to help pay for job training or education. You may even be able to keep your unemployment benefits while enrolled in your training or college program. The application process for college grants in 2014 is already underway.
How the Pell Grant Helps Unemployed Workers Pay for College
There is a program known as the Federal Pell Grant, which can provide up to $5,350 for educational and training expenses. Pell Grants are available to unemployed people as well as part-time and full-time workers, to help pay for an undergraduate college degree or a certificate program regardless of whether one studies part time or full time. However, students who already have a bachelor’s degree are not eligible. If you have only an associate’s degree, you may be eligible to continue your undergraduate studies to earn a bachelor’s degree, however. Eligibility is also contingent upon already having a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate.
Pell Grants are accepted at many trade schools, technical schools as well as most community colleges, colleges, and universities in the United States. Even if you do not qualify for a Pell Grant, you may be eligible for other financial aid. The Pell Grant is only one example of the different kinds of federal student aid programs that are available to help unemployed people.
It is easy to apply for financial aid and to find training to help unemployed workers gain new skills. The Department of Education and the Department of Labor have created a joint website: Opportunity.gov where you can find helpful information.
How to Get New Training if You Are Unemployed
Decide what type of education or training would best meet your job or career goals. Make a visit to your local community college and find out what kind of training is available near you, get a class catalogue and learn about the enrolment process and the academic calendar. Consider taking a look at www.careeronestop.org where you can take a self-assessment test into the possibilities of jobs that are out there and the kind of training available. You can also browse job sites and explore the average salaries and benefits of different kinds of jobs and careers.
Remember to apply for financial aid for college or training by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or by calling 1-800-4FED-AID. On the application, you will need to report your income from last year. If you are recently unemployed, your current circumstances may not be reflected by your last year’s income. If you’ve experienced an extreme drop of income, it is important to consult the financial offices of the school where you are applying, because they may be able to adjust your eligibility based on your current circumstances. If you have not yet received a letter certifying that you are unemployed from your unemployment benefits office, call the unemployment office and request that they send you one. Bringing a recent letter (valid for up to 90 days from the date written) to the vocational school or college where you will start training may help you qualify for a Pell Grant, as the financial aid offices can use it to confirm that you have been unemployed and are no longer receiving income from your employer. Alternatively, consider printing out a screen shot online to prove that you are receiving unemployment insurance. Remember not to overlook college grants issued by your state of residence, as well.
If you are accepted into a training program or college, make sure to contact your unemployment benefits office prior to starting college. They can let you know whether you will still be eligible for unemployment benefits based on your own individual circumstances. There are times when the requirement that you must be available for full-time employment may be waived. After contacting the unemployment benefits office, unemployed workers should apply for the college grants to help them pay for the training that can help them re-enter the work force.