Free community college tuition pushed for laid-off workers
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Community colleges nationwide would be encouraged to offer tuition-free instruction to laid-off workers under legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, that would reimburse schools up to $1,000 per student, his office said yesterday.
The legislation, (S.809), would create the Unemployment Tuition Assistance Program in the Department of Labor. Under the program, those who file for unemployment payments would be notified that they might be eligible for tuition assistance.
Colleges that volunteer to offer it could register with the program, and the Labor Department would be authorized to provide the reimbursements to those schools.
The money would come from existing funds for the department's Community Based Job Training grant program, the senator's office said.
His staff cited data from the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges for the spring 2009 semester indicating that 10 community colleges in this state enrolled 1,062 unemployed workers in free tuition programs. The schools awarded 8,481 credits at a cost to the schools of $741,788.
One of those schools, Community College of Allegheny County, said that 113 students have so far enrolled in a program it unveiled during the winter.
"Pennsylvania's community colleges have shown great leadership and sacrifice to help displaced workers. They have set a great example for the federal government to follow and they should not have to foot the bill alone," Mr. Casey said. "My bill will encourage other community colleges to do the same thing."
First Published April 7, 2009 12:00 am