Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Workforce WednesdayFor the first time ever, Financial Aid has been made available to eligible students taking short-term Noncredit Training leading to Industry-recognized Credentials (FANTIC).
Traditionally, student financial aid has only been available to those enrolled in curriculums for academic credit such as career studies certificates or associate degree programs offered at the community colleges. Starting this past fall, eligible students from seven community colleges, including Blue Ridge, Lord Fairfax, John Tyler and Reynolds doing business as the Community College Workforce Alliance, Patrick Henry, Tidewater, and Virginia Western, participated in a pilot program to receive financial aid for training programs leading to industry credentials. Students who may not have otherwise been able to afford tuition or participate in other funded workforce training programs were able to prepare for credentials in medical assisting, medical coding and billing, pharmacy technology, phlebotomy, manufacturing, welding, and commercial driver’s license. Colleges successfully offered programs that were aligned with recognized worker shortages in their workforce regions.

A story from a Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) student echoes what other eligible students have said. This gentleman, after earning a manufacturing technician credential, was hired as an entry level mechanical technician earning three times what he was earning prior to this training. He said he could not have done it without the financial assistance and other support from VWCC.

With overwhelming success, this program has benefited many needing financial assistance in starting their career training programs. To date, colleges have awarded over $900,000 to 430 students. The General Assembly has allocated $1.075 million for FY 2016 and for FY 2017 to continue the program, and, with the passage of the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant, which lowers costs to students, FANTIC should stretch even farther in the coming years.

*Feature image courtesy of John Tyler Community College'

Virginia's Community Colleges

Created more than 50 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 270,000 students a year in credit and workforce courses.

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