Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the steps I should take to do this?
We have outlined steps to take on our website. You can also look at www.opportunity.gov. In brief, the next steps you should take involve making a plan, visiting a career center and looking into applying for financial aid.
- I don’t have Internet access, what should I do? Where should I go?
For internet access, visit a local library or any of the 12 Department of Labor CareerCenters. Visit www.mainelibraries.com/main/search to find a local library. Locate your nearest CareerCenter online or call 1-888-457-8883, M-F from 8AM - 5PM.
- If I have not finished my education or training program can I continue receiving unemployment benefits??
Possibly. There are a number of state and federal unemployment benefit programs through which a person might receive benefits. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your job loss and how long you have been receiving unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for one or more additional programs. To learn more about the different benefit programs, visit the unemployment insurance website on special programs for laid-off workers or contact an unemployment claims representative at 1-800-593-7660.
- What is a Pell Grant and what is FAFSA?
A Pell Grant is a form of federal financial aid awarded based on financial need. In order to apply students must be enrolled at least half-time in an education or training program. Need is based on expected family income, cost of attendance, enrollment status (full/part-time) and whether the student is attending for a full year or not. The award (up to $5,350) is determined using a formula which considers student and parent income, household size, cost of attendance, enrollment status and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. FAFSA is a free form that can be easily completed online (www.fafsa.ed.gov) but also on paper (call 1-800-433-3243).
- Why should I pursue education and training?
Pursuing education and training is important in many ways. It opens up many opportunities for new jobs and promotions. As the economy recovers from the current recession, new initiatives will lead to the creation and expansion of certain job sectors. For instance, in Maine, the four sectors – green jobs, energy, health and information technology are being given a lot of attention. Therefore, better preparing yourself for a job will increase your resume and potential for reemployment. Someone with a community college degree is almost twice as likely to be employed as someone with just a high school diploma. Pursuing education and training during a time of unemployment with the help of financial aid opportunities also enables you to potentially receive education with little out of pocket cost.
- What is an “approved training program,” and can I collect unemployment benefits while attending training?
State and federal laws require you to be able to work, accept work and be actively seeking work each week in order to receive unemployment benefits. To waive the work search requirement and continue collecting unemployment benefits while in training or a college degree program, the training you are enrolled in must be designated as “approved” by the Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission or be one you enrolled in under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program through a CareerCenter. To find out if a training or education program you are interested in is “approved training,” visit the Maine CareerCenter Consumer Report System. If the course you want to take is not on the approved training list, you can submit information about the training or education program to the Unemployment Insurance Commission to see if it can be approved. Information about the approved training application process can be obtained by contacting an unemployment claims representative at 1-800-593-7660. It is important to find out whether the training you wish to take is approved before you enroll to be sure you can continue to collect unemployment benefits while attending.
- What does a CareerCenter offer?
CareerCenters offer a wide array of free services and resources to help you become reemployed. They are a great resource for job information and referrals to job openings, and in providing assistance in pursuing education goals, training or apprenticeships. They can even help you prepare a successful resume or sharpen your interviewing skills. Although not all CareerCenters in Maine are identical, they generally offer free computer access and a variety of workshops to help you achieve your job search or career goals.
- What other types of financial aid, other than the Pell Grant, are available?
The financial aid officer at a university, community college, trade or technical school, can help you to explore the different financial aid programs, scholarships and grants that may be available to you from both public and private sources. We encourage you to take advantage of the financial aid officer at any school you may look at to help you identify possible sources of financial assistance. You can also find helpful information on financial aid sources online at www.opportunity.gov.
- How can I contact a financial aid representative?
To contact a financial aid representative, we urge you to browse the website for any program you are interested in. You can also use a Career Center to help you with this.
- Will I potentially lose money in this endeavor?
Yes, it is possible that you will have a net loss of savings. Remember, education is an investment. It improves your chance of getting a job and also often leads to a higher salary. We hope that you will use all financial resources possible – Pell Grants and other financial aid, along with your unemployment benefits, to help pay for this education and training.
- What if I don’t get a job after furthering my education and training experience?
Pursuing education and training does not guarantee you a job. However, it does increase your likelihood of obtaining good jobs. President Obama hopes that those receiving unemployment benefits might consider ‘now’ to be an excellent time to improve one’s skills and expertise in certain fields because as the economy recovers, new jobs will be created. Attending training while you are receiving benefits to help with basic life needs can help place you in a better position to successfully compete for good jobs as they become available.
- Do I have to take classes or training in Maine?
You are not required to attend a Maine school or training program. For instance, if you live close to the New Hampshire border, and it is easier for you to take classes at a school in New Hampshire, then we encourage you to look into approved training programs there. It is also possible in some circumstances to take courses from certain out-of-state colleges online.
- What is the number for the career center in my area?
Call 1-888-457-8883 to locate a CareerCenter near you.