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Unclear Requirements Lead to a Misrepresented Grant

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Today’s post is from Ben Risinger, a freelance public relations professional in the Indianapolis area with over 10 years of experience. His stops include Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe, Bluffton University, ALL STAR Vacation Homes, and the American Cancer Society to name a few.

Indiana, the Workforce Investment Act and How it Might not Help You With a Degree

A little over a year ago I lost my job working with a national non-profit agency out of Indianapolis. Thankfully, after giving into the system for many years I was able to draw unemployment as I looked toward the next step in my life’s journey. After a lot of thought I realized it was time to go for my second degree. I have therefore been attending graduate school at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

A friend came to me later and told me about the Workforce Investment Act grant that gave students up to $3,000 a year to attend school if they had lost their job.  I looked up the grant, met all the qualifications to apply, so I went to the local government office. The counselor I was assigned to was very nice and I felt as if she truly cared about my situation. She set everything up for me to get the grant moving along and it was great. But, this was after I waited over 45 minutes just to speak with her. Together we looked over all the materials once more and I didn’t think anything was wrong. I left happy and the time was well worth what I believed the outcome to be.

A week goes by and I arrive at my 8am scheduled time to attend the FOUR hour training session. I’m pumped, ready to do the class, take my test and get some assistance with grad school. I have filled out all the paperwork, I fill out more the day of, and now I am about an hour and a half into the PowerPoint presentation. The slide comes up that reads, “requirements for WIA grant.” The presenter starts to talk and all of a sudden she says the words, “if you already have a bachelor’s degree you are ineligible for the WIA grant.” WHAT! WAIT!

consultants talk about frustration

© Flickr user marvin L

I wait until break and approach the instructor as to what she said. Sorry, nothing she can do. I explain my situation, that I met with a counselor, and how I was NEVER told that I was ineligible. The website didn’t even say that! She told me to check with my counselor, which I did, and she told me that she was unaware of that rule. Seriously?! I was told to call back so they could check on the rule. I called back and the answer was “Sorry.”

Again I am appreciative of what I have received, it’s just unfortunate I had to waste over five hours of my time in the end for nothing. I’m not sure how I got so far in the process without my counselor knowing that you cannot have a degree and qualify for the WIA grant. Life goes on and instead of a grant, I find myself still having to pay for my own schooling.

[Editor’s note: Sounds like the WIA grant needs an attached checklist for advocates and potential recipients! A disqualifier like another degree would likely be right at the top!]

Risinger is also the founder of DoItIndy, an online viral video show that highlights the Top 5 urban events each week in the city of Indianapolis. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Public Relations from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. To learn more, visit www.BenRisinger.com.

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