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Questions & Answers for Unemployed Americans interested in Education and Training Opportunities

Q1. What federal financial aid is available to the unemployed for training purposes?
A1. The federal government has a variety of grants, loans and work-study programs to help you pay for continuing education and training.

The President announced that he encourages unemployed Americans to consider education and training opportunities during this period of economic hardship. In particular, the President highlighted the availability of federal student aid, including the Federal Pell Grant. If you are currently unemployed, you may be eligible for federal financial aid, including a Federal Pell Grant. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award for the 2012-13 academic year is $5,550.

Q2. I am currently unemployed. Am I eligible for federal financial aid?
A2. If you are currently unemployed, you may be eligible for federal financial aid. Eligibility for federal grant aid, such as Pell Grants, is need-based and depends on the total income of your family. Federal student loans are available regardless of your income level. Financial aid administrators at participating institutions have been urged to take an unemployed person's current economic circumstance into account when determining a student's eligibility for Pell Grants and other student assistance.

A student must also meet certain other eligibility requirements including (1) not being in default on a federal student loan, (2) having a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) equivalency, and (3) being a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen. Pell Grants are not available to students who have already received a bachelor's degree.

Q3. I received a letter from my state workforce agency while receiving unemployment benefits encouraging me to consider seeking additional education and training. Does this mean I will receive federal financial aid?
A3. A letter from your state's workforce agency does not guarantee you federal financial aid. However, you should bring that letter (or, if you no longer have the letter, other evidence you are currently receiving unemployment benefits) to a financial aid office at the school you are considering. The U.S. Department of Education is working with community colleges, colleges, and universities to help them meet your financial needs.

Q4. I am currently unemployed and am in need of benefits and/or reemployment services. Where can I get more information?
A4. Check with your state workforce agency for available benefits and services. Assistance is available to locate state workforce agencies and your local One-Stop Career Center by visiting www.careerinfonet.org or calling the U.S. Department of Labor toll-free number: 1-877-US-2-JOBS.

Q5. What other forms of financial aid are available?
A5. In addition to the federal financial aid offered by the U.S. Department of Education (see Question 1), there may be opportunities from your state or the school that you are interested in attending may offer scholarships or other institutional aid. For example, some institutions have established special financial aid programs to address the needs of those who have recently lost a job or otherwise have become unemployed. Your local One-Stop Career Center will also have information on training funds available from the U.S. Department of Labor. Visit www.careeronestop.org/findos to locate a One-Stop Career Center near you.

Q6. What costs does a Federal Pell Grant cover?
A6. Federal Pell Grants are available if you are taking classes as part of a program that leads to an undergraduate degree or certificate. Federal student aid, including Pell Grants, can be used to cover a variety of costs, generally including:

  • Tuition and fees normally assessed;
  • Books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses;
  • Living expenses such as room and board; and
  • An allowance for costs expected to be incurred for dependent care for a student with dependents.

Q7. How much can I receive from a Federal Pell Grant?
A7. The Federal Pell Grant Program is a need-based program and the amount a student is eligible for is determined when you complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For the 2012-13 academic year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $5,550.

You may complete a FAFSA here: http://www.fafsa.gov/

Q8. Where can I get more information on federal financial aid?
A8. studentaid.ed.gov

Q9. What additional resources are available for more information?
A9. Funding Education Beyond High School-The Guide to Federal Student Aid is a free publication that the U.S. Department of Education offers to explain the federal financial aid process. This is available at http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/student_guide/index.html.

Q10. I have additional questions, who may I contact?
A10. Call 1-800-4-FED-AID or go to studentaid.ed.gov

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