Reporter’s notebook

  • House amendment aims to boost funding for community college career training programs
  • New cohort of colleges for NSF’s Project Vision
  • Chicago college system to cover costs of some short-term courses
  • New York taps federal funds for debt relief

House amendment aims to boost funding for community college career training programs

The House this week approved an amendment by Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) to boost funding for career skills training programs at community colleges to help workers displaced by Covid-related economic downturn and other layoffs.

The amendment, which would increase funding for these programs to $105 million for the upcoming fiscal year, was added to the House appropriations bill that aims to increase by more than 10% funding for U.S. Labor Department skills training programs, according to Axne’s office.

“I’ve been committed to ensuring that we support programs that recognize that a four-year college degree isn’t the only pathway to success in our economy. And after a difficult year, there is no better time to see this substantial increase in resources for these critical grants and programs,” Axne said in a statement.

The House this week is considering appropriations bills to set funding levels for the fiscal year beginning October 1.

New cohort of colleges for NSF’s Project Vision

Thirteen community colleges comprise the newest cohort of a National Science Foundation (NSF) effort designed to help colleges, especially those in rural areas and with relatively new presidents, to become familiar with the agency and its grant programs.

Project Vision focuses on two-year colleges that have not participated over the past several years in programs through NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE), particularly the Advanced Technological Education program, or they have had challenges building momentum to start new STEM workforce endeavors. It aims to help selected colleges develop ideas that align with DUE funding as well as grow capacity so they can regularly submit proposals for NSF. This includes working with subject matter experts that can help participants learn how to write strong grant proposals.

The selected colleges are:

• Arkansas State University – Newport
• Berkshire Community College (Massachusetts)
• Corning Community College (New York)
• Des Moines Area Community College (Iowa)
• Edgecombe Community College (North Carolina)
• Gallatin College Montana State University
• Glen Oaks Community College (Michigan)
• Maysville Community & Technical College (Kentucky)
• Miles Community College (Montana)
• Minnesota West Community College
• Montcalm Community College (Michigan)
• The College of Menominee Nation (Wisconsin)
• Tompkins Cortland Community College (New York)

Chicago college system to cover costs of some short-term courses

City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) this week announced that it will open more than 60 high-demand, short-term programs at no cost to qualified residents for the coming fall on a first-come, first-served basis.

Future Ready is a unique opportunity for Chicago residents to pursue careers in fields such as healthcare, technology, transportation, distribution and logistics, cannabis operations, auto tech, criminal justice and more.

“The time is now to get the education Chicagoans need to be a part of the Covid economic recovery,” said Chancellor Juan Salgado. “There is no better way to launch a career path than by taking advantage of City Colleges’ Future Ready program this fall.”

Students who are new to City Colleges are eligible, along with those returning after two or more semesters (fall/spring) who left City Colleges in good standing. Students who previously took adult education (GED/ESL) or continuing education are also eligible, as are undocumented students.

Future Ready will only cover classes on a student’s program plan, and is good for one credential only.
Students must complete their program within 150% of time.

The program is a last-dollar scholarship, so any financial aid for which a student qualifies would be applied first. City Colleges will use its federal pandemic relief allocation to cover the program.

New York taps federal funds for debt relief

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a plan to eliminate up to $125 million in unpaid debt for at least 50,000 students who attended a City University of New York (CUNY) institution and faced financial hardships during the Covid pandemic.

CUNY Comeback, which the governor’s office said is one of the nation’s largest student debt forgiveness plans of its kind, will be funded through federal stimulus assistance allocated to CUNY. The goal is to remove financial barriers to access the education New Yorkers of limited means need to move up the economic ladder, according to the college system.

CUNY estimates that at least 50,000 students will receive a pandemic debt-relief benefit. The average debt balance is about $2,000, according to CUNY.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.