Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Some Follow-Up on Appealing FAFSA Decisions and Job Retraining

Readers sometimes write.  We got a good posting from an anonymous person the other day, full of good stuff, and worth posting for more readers. It was written in response to a posting on retraining/education for older workers:

FAFSA does indeed use an applicant's previous year's tax return to make financial aid decisions BUT the decisions (usually "turndowns") can be appealed with the information about the applicant's current status. This requires "lead time" so a prospective student for Fall 2013 should begin the process no later than January 2013 - because by April 2013 the grants, need scholarships and federal loan availability will largely already be spoken for. SECOND beware of the "Plus" programs, not all are good. In my area (Oregon) the "Plus" program only gets you trained for and then employed in a minimum wage/part-time call center job - few people's idea of gainful employment - a minimum wage part time (20-30 hours) job isn't even a decent "survival" job. THIRD - in some states there is a federal continuing education grant offered through a state's unemployment department twice yearly.

1) On the possibility of appealing the decision to not provide financial aid for a student because of changing financial circumstances, such as a job loss.  Anonymous states that you can do this, and a check of various college, university and government websites prove that this is true.  In fact, some institutions have several forms depending on the cause of the appeal--job losss, loss of dependency on parents, etc.  When you are hit with unemployment or another disaster you should check with the institution that turned you down.  But the devil of it is that you still need some "lead time" to appeal while the institution still has funds available.  If you have a calamity after they run out of money, you're still stuck.

2)  "Beware of PLUS programs."  The funding behind the PLUS program that I mentioned as a career training program for people over 50 in that same entry is specifically to enter careers in health care, education and social services, but many programs aim to retrain workers, may use the word PLUS, and essentially train you for stuff that is low-paying and a waste of time.  You should beware of PLUS as much as any other offer for job training.  Take the time to check out how well-paying and in-demand the job for which you would be training is. In this entry, I mention some research you can do to find out.  You can also check the salaries in job sites for positions offered in indeed.com

3) Some states do offer job retraining through whatever agency handles unemployment in your state in various forms and guises, because it may come through different federal funding streams.  It may be twice a year, or it may be continuous.  And by "continuous," we mean until the money runs out.  And since a program might be funded by programs meant to serve different constituencies (displaced workers, veterans, etc), there might be funding for you if you fall into one category of worker, but not another.   Still, the department that handles unemployment claims is an underrated source of retraining money.  In this blog, we have covered stuff from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Families, including their listing of eligible training places that you can get funding to enter (when the department has money for your type of worker).    To identify the department in charge of unemployment in your state, see this site, then check out the site for worker and job retraining, or contact them.


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