New financial aid is now available for Wyoming’s community college students — at least some of them.
Gov. Mark Gordon signed the program into law following the Legislature’s most recent session. Lawmakers allocated $5 million for the effort, which is intended to “provide programs and resources for adult students to learn a skill that leads to secure employment,” according to a recent press release from the Educational Attainment Executive Council.
The council is part of a statewide initiative to boost educational attainment rates. Attainment refers to the highest level of schooling an individual has completed, and Wyoming officials have set lofty goals regarding an increase in the percentage of Wyomingites who have completed some form of postsecondary education, whether that’s a multiweek certificate program or a two- or four-year degree.
“By 2025, 60% of jobs are going to need some kind of certificate or credential,” said Lori Ridgway, Central Wyoming College’s director of marketing. “We’re at 48%.”
According to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the national attainment rate for at least an associate degree in 2017 was 47%.
The attainment council aims to create both five- and 10-year plans centered on what the state can do to increase attainment rates, Ridgway said. She chairs the council’s public information subcommittee.
The Wyoming Works program gives grants to adult students seeking degrees in approved programs at community colleges that provide skills that are transferable to the workforce. A few of them are nursing, culinary arts and computer science programs.
The grants will award up to $3,360 per year and are payable to students for up to six semesters. Students in some programs qualify for only $1,680 per year.
Interested Central Wyoming College students who want to find eligible programs and learn if they qualify for the grants can go to CWC.edu/wyomingworks, call the college’s financial aid office at 855-2115 or email FinAid@cwc.edu.