When considering an "investment" in education and especially before enrolling in a training program, Bernard argues that you should ask the same sorts of questions that a portfolio manager might ask when analyzing a stock investment, including:
- Am I earning a reputable credential, degree, or certificate?
- Is the cost of earning that credential feasable?
- How can I minimize my expenses?
- What is demand like in the field I'm retraining for?
- What are my earnings potential?
Research Career Options. Bernard recommends O*NET OnLine, which is a website maintained by the Department Of Labor and which allows users to research employment opportunities and salary information for different professions. Washington State residents can also cross-reference O*NET findings with www.wilma/org/wdclists, which is a website that allows users to reseach employment and salary information on jobs across the state.
Seek Employer Aid. If you have a job, writes Bernard, ask your employer about available tuition-assistance programs.
Ask For Government Help. Bernard correctly points out that people collecting Unemployment Insurance may be eligible to collect benefits while going to school and even to receive additional benefits after their regular unemployment claim has run out. This is true in Washington State. The Employment Sercurities Department offers the Training Benefits Program to unemployed workers who are in need of retraining. For more information, check out our ealier blog post entitled "Let's Talk Training Benefits."
Apply For Grants. A no-brainer. Before you borrow money, cautions Bernard, search for grants and scholarships to help you pay for school ("grant" = gift aid = money you don't have to pay back). For potential Green River students interested in job (re)training, significant funding streams may include Worker Retraining, Opportunity Grant, Basic Food Employment & Training, WorkFirst, Federal Financial Aid, GRCC Foundation Scholarships, Workforce Investment Act Funding, WAVE scholarships, as well as scholarships advertised on http://www.thewashboard.org/.
Investigate Tax Breaks. Bernard also highlights the fact that the Lifetime Learning Credit, which is geared for continuing education, can be used for an unlimited number of years and for a wide range of schooling.