ROCKFORD (WIFR) — Winnebago and Boone counties continue to fight double-digit unemployment numbers with the Illinois Department of Employment reporting that in November of 2012, Rockford continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 13 metro areas in the state at 10.5 percent. According to the 2010 United States Census Bureau, 22.2 percent of Winnebago County residents have some college, but no degree. Boone County residents are in the same range with 21.1 percent falling short of a college degree. These figures illustrate the need to provide an additional opportunity to update or enhance the skill set of those who are unemployed and has led Rockford College to implement a new tuition-covered option to help unemployed adults advance their education.
In both a response to the challenges of our region and in accord with the College’s historical commitment to offer educational programs that evolve with the needs of the community, Rockford College will offer a new tuition-covered option for qualified individuals who have been out of work for at least 18 months. Eligible adult learners can enroll in the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Management Studies program, currently part of the College’s existing Return to College offerings. This option will cover any remaining tuition after all eligible state and federal student aid is applied. The program will provide students direct access to the resources of the College’s Career Services, Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence and the Family Business Center to provide additional career development and eventual internship opportunities.
Rockford College President Robert L. Head, Ph.D., adds, “The College is active in numerous collaborations with our region’s employers to help fulfill their expressed need for an increasingly qualified work force. Providing an option designed specifically for unemployed individuals whose career goals can be enhanced with the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree, grounded in the liberal arts, is a natural extension of our work to support our community and improve the quality of life for all citizens.”
Applications for enrollment are currently being accepted. Cohorts for the 2013-2014 academic year begin in August and October. It is imperative to begin the application process immediately so that all available federal and state funds can be secured prior to cohort start dates. The state Monetary Award Program (MAP) funds typically exhaust quickly in the spring, so beginning the financial aid process now becomes a crucial first step for enrollment. Rockford College financial aid specialists are available to assist interested individuals with any questions and to begin the financial aid application process to enter into the accelerated degree completion program for unemployed individuals.
Qualified applicants must be Illinois residents 25 years of age and older who have been unemployed for at least 18 months, have some transferrable college credit, but have not already earned a bachelor’s degree. Interested individuals are encouraged to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov and use Rockford College’s code: 001748. The priority deadline to file for FAFSA is March 1, 2013.
Financial Aid/Eligibility requirements for the Return to College program for unemployed individuals include:
• Must be at least 25 years of age
• Be unemployed for at least 18 months
• Be Illinois residents
*1 year of the length of time corresponding to MAP (State Monetary Award Program) eligibility
• Some college credit required with a minimum 2.0 grade point average
• Be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen
• Have a zero Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount of money that the government expects your family to contribute to your education expenses and is calculated from the FAFSA application.
• File the FAFSA in time to receive MAP funding
• Be MAP eligible
• Have not previously earned a bachelor’s degree
For more information, contact Donna Harvey, Assistant Director of the Return to College/BSMS program at firstname.lastname@example.org/815-226-4197