OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Unemployed? Get a Free College Degree

How to get a $30,000 Government Grant to cover your College Degree Costs

Photo of Sasha Stewart
7 4

Written by

Are you or someone you love was laid off, unemployed or struggling to get a job without proper qualifications, training or a college degree? I have great news for you…

US Department of Labor can pay in full for Your Bachelor or even Master Degree!

Interested? Let me tell you a quick personal story to inspire you to consider Trade Adjustment Act as a possible avenue to get a free college degree.

My story started at 9am in the morning of March 2013. On that date, Advanced Energy Industries, Fort Collins, CO announced a 150 people lay off, eliminating several divisions, including Supply Chain and Logistics Division. Within two longest hours in my life, I was on the street with a carton box, and all my personal belongings. I was in shock and unsure what to do.

I had a rising career as a Regional Logistics Manager and been laid off was not part of my plans. It took some strength, but after a few days, I applied for unemployment benefits and started looking for a job. Things were not going well, I seems struggled to locate opportunities, many of positions I applied for called for advanced degree, and I only had Bachelors.

A few months later, i was referred to a local Workforce Center to help me find a new job. This is when I learned I potentially qualified for training assistance and other benefits under TAA or Trade Adjustment Assistance Act. Next, I had to work with my counselor to create a new game plan. It was determined the best plan was to complete my MBA in order to compete in Colorado labor market more effectively.

Over the period of several months, my counselor and i built a convincing case to petition to US Department of Labor for a full ride grant to cover the costs of my Master Degree Program at CSU. I had to interview employers, conduct research, and gather data on my prospective career path with a new degree. It took months to gather all the data, write essays and collect personal references. I also was told no one before me applied nor received the grant for Master in Colorado before, so my chances were very slim. I was a first applicant in Colorado, who dared to apply for Master Degree. I was also told it may take a very long time to get approved. Despite all the “encouragement” I continued working to build my case.

Ten months later, one Thursday afternoon I submitted my 80 page petition to TAA committee. I was prepared to wait for a long time for a decision. Only one day later, next Friday morning I was contacted by my counselor. I figured, I most likely missed something, so she I calling back to ask me to resubmitted the petition. …. This was not why she called. The reason she called is to share that I WAS APPROVED!!!

This was the day that transformed my future. My education petition was reviewed and committee approved my grant in less than 48 hours!!! I received a $30,000 grant to complete my MBA.

Conclusion: Ask and you shall receive.

During last two years, I learned new marketable skills, gained work experience and connected with dozens of professionals who inspired me on the journey to a career in social impact, nonprofit and education sectors. I love what I do. Through this personal journey to an advanced degree I found my true calling. As a result, I am much happier person. I live more fulfilled and wholesome life. I also will graduate on December 18th, 2015 with my MBA degree. This all was made possible because of the services provided by a local Workforce Center and TAA Administration.

To learn more

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Tips from the field: • Believe in yourself and your future • Research your layoff circumstances to assure you have a full picture of benefits and legal rights • Seek support -Connect with other professionals to create a road map to success • Don`t be put off by long forms and complicated procedures, it all worth it! • Get YOUR DEGREE paid for by US Department of Labor


Join the conversation:

Photo of Izabela Correa

Hi Sasha! Thank you for sharing your story. It is so inspiring. I believe the main reason way many people do not make the request is because they do not know about it or do not have enough information. So, a good provocation might be: how can we make people aware of their rights when come to education?

Photo of Sasha Stewart

it is a strong point- how may we make students more aware of their rights and resources available?
What do you think?

Photo of Izabela Correa

Hi Sasha! This is indeed a strong point. We should think about some ideas for the ideation phase. :) To start a solution might be an online platform where people could share their experiences as you did. :)

View all comments