Posted at 2:30 p.m., Dec. 8, 2015

Financial aid available through downturn

Only 45 percent of students apply for federal money

Holding a steady job while attending college is one of the most difficult challenges a student will face.

Laramie County Community College Vice President of Student Services Judy Hay and Adult Career and Education System (ACES) program manager Kelly Willmarth have some solutions.

“The college gives students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma while earning college credits, called the Partnership Diploma Program, where students can earn high school equivalency while attending college,” Hay said.

“Only 45 percent of students at LCCC fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA),” Hay said.

With the state facing a decrease in revenue of $600 million over the next three years, there’s a possibility state job opportunities will shrink and current salaries will stagnate. And if the decrease in revenue leads to more economic bad news, potential students will be looking for more opportunities for financial aid.

The FAFSA is a tool students can take advantage of that provides opportunities to receive financial help during their time at college. “We do not encourage student loans, but push for them to take advantage of grants, which do not have to be paid back.” For more information on the FAFSA, contact the Financial Aid Office at Student Services, Room 106 or by phone at 778-1215.

The ACES program is funded by government grants making the classes offered free to students. Willmarth said, “The ACES program is for students who do not have a diploma. Offering eight week long classes to help students earn certifications.”

“A lot of our people are older than the traditional college age and their main thing is they need to make money because they have families to support. They don’t really have time at this point to go through a four-year degree, so we’re looking for some short term certificates,” said Willmarth. Some of the certification programs offered at LCCC include dental, pharmacy, HVAC, welding and Health Information Systems.

Willmarth also gave insight into the future of what some ACES programs could be offering next spring, “We’re going to be integrating some of those workplace skills within our regular curriculum,” Willmarth said, “They’ve taken some of our math problems and they’ve rewritten them so they have a career focus.”

Students who choose to work while going to school tend to work an average of 15 hours a week, Hay said. This can be achieved through the work study program, offered by the Financial Aid Office. Additionally, students can look to the Career Center to earn money where employers post job listings.

Contact the Career Center at the College Community Center, Room 128 or by phone at 778-1351.

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