Although the latest figures indicate job loss is slowing, at 8.9% the unemployment rate is continuing to increase. Some unemployed individuals who want to take classes to build skills while looking for a job experience some roadblocks:
- Searching for work can be a full-time job. Finding time for all your responsibilities and desires can be a challenge in addition to tailoring resumes, connecting with contacts, traveling to interviews. There may be more daylight in the summer, but there are still only twenty-four hours in a day.
- If you expect long-term unemployment and want to use the time to go to college full time, under current rules, you lose your unemployment benefits. You have to be actively searching for work in order to qualify, and full-time education usually disqualifies you.
- Financial aid is based on the prior year’s income, so newly unemployed individuals may not qualify despite their lower income this year.
The key to building a strong community, a competitive country, and prosperous world is education. This is true not only for education in finance, but for education in science, history, and the arts. It’s good to hear that education is back on the agenda. President Obama wants to change the rules to benefit the millions of unemployed individuals who want to increase their knowledge.
The President has proposed using current rather than the prior year’s income to determine whether an student qualifies for the Pell Grant, financial aid for low-income families. Another proposal would ensure that students would not lose their unemployment benefits while enrolled in classes and training.
As the proposal takes shape over the next few weeks a government website, Opportunity.gov, will provide resources for unemployed individuals who wish to expand their knowledge through education. States will also be sending letters to residents receiving unemployment benefits to inform them of the new opportunities coming soon.
Updated December 20, 2011 and originally published May 11, 2009.