College to Offer Scholarships for Trade Adjustment Act Students
Susan Forsyth was laid off from her job at Woolrich Inc. two years ago, but with help from benefits she received under a federal training program, she's well on her way to earning an associate's degree in Business Management from Pennsylvania College of Technology and starting a new career.
Layoffs at the Toshiba manufacturing facility in Horseheads, N.Y., caused Cheryl Wheeler to lose her job about the same time. With help she received from the same federal program, she graduated this month from Penn College with a degree in Legal Assistant/Paralegal Studies.
More than 100 Penn College students now qualify for assistance under the federal Trade Adjustment Act. TAA provides educational support to workers who lose their jobs due to the impact of foreign imports.
Penn College officials hope that, by offering a new scholarship valued at over $3,400 more dislocated workers will be encouraged to continue their education in the future. The scholarship will be offered to new enrollees beginning in June. It can be applied toward final-semester tuition costs (up to 12 credits) in most of the College's two-year majors. To be eligible, students must qualify for TAA sponsorship and must apply for financial aid each year they are enrolled.
"We hope that, by offering this scholarship, we can encourage even more dislocated workers to receive the education, skills and training they need to re-enter the work force in high-quality jobs," said Penn College President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour. "By offsetting tuition costs for the final semester of enrollment, we hope to provide the incentive for them to complete their program of study and achieve their educational goals.
Dr. Gilmour said the federal TAA program eligibility covers 75 percent of the College's associate-degree and certificate offerings. Those that are not eligible under government guidelines are ones which require more tools, supplies and related expenses. In many cases, she said, students interested in majors that do not qualify for TAA funding may find other sources of funding - such as loan-forgiveness opportunities in nursing and industry sponsorships in automotive, diesel and heavy equipment.
"There are a wide variety of opportunities for financial aid, scholarship assistance and loan forgiveness available to anyone interested in pursuing higher education today, " Dr. Gilmour said. "The TAA program and this new scholarship offer additional opportunities for financial support, specifically for men and women who are in a position of having lost their employment due to foreign competition."
Had it not been for the TAA benefits and Penn College, Forsyth who expects to graduate in December said she might have ended up in a minimum-wage job. Now, the Jersey Shore resident whose sister Dawn graduated from Penn College this month with a degree in Dental Hygiene is considering pursuing a four-year degree. She likes the scheduling flexibility that makes it possible for her to pursue her education at the College.
"Penn College has been great. I wanted a change, and the school was the next step toward that," she said.
Wheeler was a "direct worker" (assembler) at Toshiba before advancing to a position in which she tested the TV tubes that the company produced. After losing her job, she searched for colleges offering paralegal degrees and decided upon Penn College because of its program offerings and proximity to her Tioga home.
"The classes were good; I enjoyed every one of them. I enjoyed my instructors," said Wheeler, who expects to head to the Pittsburgh area to find work as a paralegal.
The College also helps to ease the transition back into the classroom for adult students sponsored by TAA. Counseling and Career Services offers an orientation/reception for new students, provides advice on course scheduling and support services, and tracks the students' progress throughout their program of study. Staff members, including those from the Registrar's Office, help the students meet the special requirements for TAA funding, such as submitting mandatory class-attendance forms.
"Our staff offers great services and personal attention to these adult students," Dr. Gilmour said. "It is very important to us that they have every opportunity to gain the skills they need to succeed in the classroom and in the workplace."
To learn more about the scholarships and services available to TAA students at the College, contact the Counseling and Career Services office at (570) 327-4765.