Undocumented immigrants in Connecticut may soon qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid due to separate pieces of legislation passed by the state’s House and Senate in May. The House bill, signed into law by Gov. Dannel Malloy in June, expanded a 2011 law that reduced the required length of in-state high school attendance from four years to two in order to qualify for in-state tuition. The Senate bill, which has been sent to the House for review, would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for various forms of financial aid, including waivers, grants and student employment.

Making the transition between military service and civilian life can be a difficult challenge for service members. Many find themselves without a job or the means to support a family without returning to school to further their knowledge and skills. But making the move from a battlefield to a college campus can be a difficult, isolating experience for student veterans.

The state of Vermont has begun collecting funds for a new program designed to guarantee a college scholarship for every child born to Vermont residents.  As part of House Bill 448, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation will allocate $250 per child and $500 if that child’s family earns less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level.  Once a birth certificate is issued, the VSAC establishes a savings account on behalf of the child through the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan. 

Rural communities in the South continue to face serious challenges in getting highly educated students to return home after college graduation. Research indicates that education may be a cause and effect for this rural “brain drain” phenomenon, and also the key to reversing the trend. Studies have shown that efforts to improve rural education contribute to rapid economic development in those areas, while a more educated community can serve as a catalyst for business expansion and increased civic engagement. This complimentary webinar, presented by CSG South/SLC, highlights the impact of education on rural development and examines initiatives in rural communities to entice educated former residents to return and invest in their hometowns.

Navigating the array of credentials in the U.S. can be tricky. Employers sometimes find themselves trying to compare degrees, certificates, industry certifications and other credentials among job candidates without an apples-to-apples guideline. “We’re looking for a way to make that more understandable, a way to interconnect them,” said Larry Good, chairman, co-founder and senior policy fellow of the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, a nonprofit organization that partners with governments, businesses and community leaders to help connect workers to education and good jobs. Good was one of three presenters in a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “Using Stackable Credentials to Increase Job Earnings.” He said credentials should be transferable, transparent, useful and easily understood by students, workers and employers.

A 2014 report by the National Skills Coalition said middle-skill jobs—those that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree—account for 54 percent of the United States’ labor market, but only 44 percent of the country’s workers are qualified for these types of positions. One way the skills gap—the gap between skills that employers seek and the skills available in the workforce—can be decreased is to use stackable credentials to improve worker capabilities and competencies. This FREE eCademy webcast, presented by the CSG National Task Force on Workforce Development and Education, highlights innovative programs that are helping students gain the competencies they need by offering stackable credentials and credits for talent development.

How can states better ensure that soon-to-be high school graduates are leaving their K–12 education systems ready to succeed in college or the workforce? For states, finding answers to that policy question has never been more important because of a continuing economic trend—jobs are demanding more and more skills and increasingly requiring some level of postsecondary training.

On July 22, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to assist those looking for employment access the education, training and support services needed to find family-sustaining jobs and to match skilled workers with business and industry. 

Veterans have unique needs when they attend college, but fortunately, state leaders can do quite a few things to help ease their transition into college, civilian life and the workforce. “Generally speaking, their (veterans’) skills are undervalued by the civilian workforce,” said Dawn McDaniel, a U.S. Army veteran and president of Bravo Delta Consulting, a business that partners with companies and governments to help reduce the barriers for veterans in the workforce. “This is largely because the military culture is unknown. With only a 7.5 percent veteran population in the United States, … that leaves a tremendous amount of people who never had any connection or any intimate knowledge of the service and what it means.”

CSG South

Since the turn of the 21st century, the United States has maintained a cultural creed that the only path to a middle-class lifestyle is through a four-year bachelor's degree or higher. However, increasing analyses are demonstrating that industries with the highest growth in the next decade will demand skills readily obtainable through a two-year technical education. Moreover, several policy and industry experts have begun raising concerns about the ever-increasing gap between middle-skill jobs (those requiring more than a high school education but less than a four-year degree) and the number of middle-skilled workers available to fill those jobs. These findings, along with evidence indicating that middle-class household incomes are more attainable by those with a member holding at least an associate's degree, are steering SLC policymakers toward creating and expanding programs that increase their technical and community college graduation rates. In that vein, this SLC Regional Resource examines efforts by policymakers in selected SLC member states to implement postsecondary scholarships programs specifically targeted at increasing their number of two-year degree graduates.

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