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Louisiana funds in-demand technical and occupational degrees

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards authorized a grant program that eliminates tuition for high-demand technical and occupational degrees. The program, which will be available next summer, enables students to attend Louisiana’s community and technical colleges at no cost when they study designated education programs.

Qualifying programs include construction, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics. Applicants must be 21 years of age or older to qualify for free tuition. The grants include a maximum award of $6,400 and will pay all costs for all eligible training programs.

The program is designed to meet Louisiana’s critical need for employees with technical and occupational degrees. So, students can complete some programs – like truck driving – in as little as 10 weeks. Other programs, like nursing or information technology, can take two years or longer.

The state legislature has committed $10.5 million to fund the grants. The program also aims to serve Louisiana’s 1.1 million adults with only a high school diploma (or less).

There are lots of approaches to free community college, and many ways to increase enrollment. Recent high school graduates are not the only target market for enrollment. Two-thirds of adults in Michigan have only a high school diploma, a GED or less. Better still, there are tens of thousands of people who have some college credit, but never graduated with a degree or other credential.

The WCC Administration is charged with improving or maintaining enrollment in programs that offer technical and occupational degrees. If they can only engage in handwringing and generate alternate revenue strategies that rely on business unrelated to the mission of the College without first fully exploring all avenues for finding and recruiting additional students, they’re not doing what they’re being amply compensated for.

Graduates with technical and occupational degrees are in high demand

Keep in mind that WCC’s primary mission is to educate people IN WASHTENAW COUNTY. Washtenaw County taxpayers pay extraordinary taxes to fund this mission. And WCC’s primary purpose is to serve the LOCAL population. So, when the WCC administration starts chasing students who live outside the district boundaries (and offering them discounted services, no less) and developing revenue streams unrelated to the mission of educating people in Washtenaw County, they misappropriate the resources provided by the local taxpayer for the benefit of individuals in Washtenaw County.

When they borrow millions to build a gym, and repay the loans with money meant for education, it is a problem. Now, they want to borrow even more millions to build a hotel – which has absolutely no relationship to WCC’s mission. When they do not focus on getting students into programs that offer technical and occupational degrees, they hurt Washtenaw County.

We cannot continue to tolerate the diversion of educational dollars toward activities not related to WCC’s mission. Especially since these planned activities will require WCC to institute significant tuition and fee hikes. The proposed tuition and fee hikes don’t represent the increased cost of educating people in Washtenaw County. Instead, they represent the cost of these unrelated business activities.

If you don’t want your WCC taxes funding hotels and health clubs, stop returning the current Trustees to the Board.

Photo Credit: Gateway Technical College , via Flickr