As students prepare for school this fall, Connecticut community colleges are highlighting programs that aim to help low-income applicants. The system offers a program for students that qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
The program, titled CT Pathways, offers over 60 programs in high-demand areas including advanced manufacturing, allied health and emergency medical response. CSCU officials say that these classes would be free to those who qualify.
Eileen Peltier, Asnuntuck Community College’s Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education, said that the program is now offered at all 12 of Connecticut’s community colleges.
“It’s not just a certificate that a dean signed saying that you completed a program,” said Peltier. “You are finishing this program with an industry credential that any employer in the field will recognize as valuable.”
Students who qualify for CT Pathways meet with success coaches to help them overcome obstacles they face that would hinder them from completing the program. The help offered can include gas cards, interview clothes, and money for daycare.
The program was expanded to all 12 community colleges in 2018, in a partnership with the state Department of Social Services. In a statement last year, CSCU president Mark Ojakian stressed the importance of the CT Pathways program for low income students looking to obtain higher education.
“This program trains residents for good paying available jobs in Connecticut, while at the same time leveraging federal support," said Ojakian. “We have a responsibility to provide a high quality educational experience to any student who is willing to put in the work to pursue one, and make sure they are able to compete in today’s job market. This is also an example of how we leverage our system to holistically address all the costs and barriers students face to get their education.”
According to Northwestern Connecticut Community College’s website, The SNAP Employment and Training Program is a federally-funded initiative that provides scholarships for SNAP recipients to receive the training needed to obtain jobs. The money for the classes is provided by the Connecticut Department of Social Services.
CSCU officials held a news briefing on August 2 highlighting the programs available at Connecticut community colleges, and encouraging students to take them into consideration during their higher education search.
*An earlier photograph in this story pictured Manchester Community College in New Hampshire, not Connecticut.