grant program

Expanding tuition-free programs

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A roundup of just a few of the tuition-free programs community colleges are offering to encourage enrollment and help those affected by the pandemic. 

Though many community colleges are facing potential funding losses – especially if state budgets are slashed – they are still pushing hard to help people affected by the pandemic. Many are offering scholarships and other financial assistance to get people enrolled and on track for college and workforce success.

Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Ohio launched the Full Tuition Assistance program to offset academic and workforce training costs for Cuyahoga County residents facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The program will cover tuition for new or returning Tri-C students with financial needs that intensified during the pandemic response. Funding is available for three consecutive sessions (fall-spring-summer).

Assistance can cover up to one year of academic courses or the full length of a workforce training program, according to a release from the college.

“These are uncertain times, but people don’t have to put their futures on hold,” Tri-C President Alex Johnson said. “Thanks to the generous support of Tri-C Foundation donors, this program will allow people to earn a degree or credential in a high-demand field that pays a family-sustaining wage without incurring any tuition costs.”

Maryland’s Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) is removing the biggest barrier found in higher education: cost. The college will provide students with supplemental aid after the awarding of scholarships, grants and COVID-19 relief funding. Degree-seeking students and those in workforce training programs can benefit from CCBC’s tuition-free offer.

“We recognize the financial hardship that many students are facing and don’t want that to sideline their educational pursuits,” said CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis.

Helping first-time college students

And Connecticut’s tuition- and fee-free community college program, Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT), has gotten a big response. More than 2,200 first-time college students are receiving $2.5 million in grant awards.

Because it’s a last-dollar funding award, more than half of those students will receive the minimum grant of $250 for educational expenses.

“While it might not sound like a lot, that $250 grant will make a real difference to our poorer students, many of whom are students of color, who all too often face nearly insurmountable obstacles – from childcare, to food insecurity, to unreliable transportation – to obtaining a degree,” Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian said.

The state’s 12 community colleges will continue to accept applications for PACT for the fall semester on a first come, first served basis.

Tuition-free workforce credentials

Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College has increased its tuition-free credential offerings thanks to the expansion of the state’s Next Level Jobs initiative. Residents can earn a free short-term certificate to prepare them for a career in a high-growth, in-demand job field.

Some of the programs covered by the tuition-free initiative are advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, building and construction, and certificate programs in paramedic science and certified nursing assistant.

The initiative is part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Indiana agenda to continue the positive momentum of Indiana.

Helping dual enrollment students

North Carolina’s 58 community colleges are offering free online classes to high school students this fall through the Career & College Promise dual enrollment program.

“We are doing everything we can to serve all students during the pandemic, and that includes high school students who want to get a jump on a college education. School districts and community colleges are partners in this important effort,” said Bill Carver, interim president of the NC Community College System.

Last year, about 59,000 high school students across the state took these courses, which save time and money toward a college degree.

Is your college offering tuition-free programs? Sound off on LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.