Gift aid at for-profit colleges
To encourage enrollment at for-profit colleges, the Imagine America Foundation has established three gift aid programs. Each program gives $1,000 tuition awards to students enrolling at participating schools.
The first program offers a scholarship for high school seniors. Eligibility requirements include a grade-point average of 2.5 or higher, financial need, and demonstrated community service. School guidance counselors can nominate up to five graduating seniors, who must apply by December 31.
The second program is a grant for veterans and military students. Eligibility requirements include financial need and an active duty, reserve, honorably discharged, or veteran status with the U.S. military.
The third program is a scholarship for adult students. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, at least 19 years old, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, and complete an assessment.
For more information about the Imagine America Foundation's gift aid programs, visit www.imagine-america.org.
To learn more about for-profit institutions—including how to avoid scams, diploma mills, excessive borrowing, and other pitfalls of unaccredited programs—see page 14 of "Certificates: A fast track to careers" in the winter 2012–13 Quarterly, available at www.bls.gov/ooq/2012/winter/art01.pdf.
For more information about affording college, see "Paying for college: Strategies to afford higher education today" elsewhere in this issue of the Quarterly.
Free online training for solar inspectors
If you're interested in learning how to inspect and grant permits for residential solar installations, you no longer have to attend an onsite workshop or seminar. An online training program is now available for free from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Known as Photovoltaic Online Training (PVOT), the program increases the availability of training for residential solar inspectors, solar installers, and students. PVOT uses photographs, videos, and interactive activities to teach proper solar installation techniques that comply with building and electrical codes.
PVOT includes seven lessons and tracks each participant's progress and score. The first six lessons teach the fundamentals of photovoltaic inspection, such as expedited permitting and equipment ratings. The final lesson has participants work on a virtual roofline, similar to what an inspector would do on the job.
For a fee, those who complete PVOT can get six continuing education credits from the International Association of Electrical Inspectors. Be sure to check first to learn whether your local jurisdiction or state recognizes the association's credits.
To participate in PVOT, visit www.nterlearning.org/web/guest/course-details?cid=402.
Federal service opportunities for students and recent graduates
To attract more students and recent graduates to public service, the federal government has established the Pathways Program. This program offers paid work and career development opportunities in Federal agencies. Applicants choose from three different "paths" based on their education level and field of study.
The first path is an internship for students currently enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions, from high school through post-graduate school. Interns choose to work part- or full-time during school breaks for up to a year, or during school until they graduate.
The second path targets recent graduates who have a qualifying certificate or degree, such as an associate's or master's. The program lasts 1 year and includes an orientation, mentorship, and at least 40 hours of formal training. Graduates may apply up to 2 years after completing their certificate or degree; veterans may apply up to 6 years after.
The last path, the Presidential Management Fellows Program, is a 2-year, entry-level leadership development program for recent graduates who have an advanced degree. The program includes an orientation, seniorlevel mentorship, and at least 80 hours of formal training per year. Candidate selections are based on experience, accomplishments, and an assessment. Only the chosen finalists can apply to Presidential Management positions, and, if appointed, must receive a satisfactory performance rating each year.
The positions available in all three paths offer pay, but benefits vary. All participants who work at least 90 days earn vacation leave and sick leave. Participants in the last two paths are eligible for retirement contributions, health insurance, and other benefits.
After completing the program, a participant's position may be converted to permanent status. To be eligible, participants must meet the qualification standards for the position, do their job successfully, and complete all program and agency requirements.
For more information about the Pathways Program and to browse current job listings, visit www.usajobs.gov/studentjobs. To apply to be a Presidential Management Fellow, visit www.pmf.gov.
Resources for struggling jobseekers
Getting back on track after a job loss can be challenging. A new website, "Help for Difficult Financial Times" from USA.gov, provides resources from the federal government to help with unemployment, jobs, training, and more.
The site provides links for people looking for work, applying for unemployment benefits, or seeking education and training. For example, clicking on "Find a Job" takes visitors to a page with links to government information and services for jobseekers, including some to U.S. Department of Labor resources.
Topics are not limited to those for jobseekers. There is also help for those seeking family support, housing assistance, healthcare and insurance coverage, and debt assistance. Visit www.usa.gov/citizen/topics/family/help-for-difficult-financial-times.shtml.