TORRINGTON – Eastern Wyoming College is pleased to offer the Wyoming Works grant program to qualified students and is currently seeking interested students. Wyoming Works is a state grant program with resources targeted at qualified students to advance their skills in areas that lead to securing employment.
“This is a state-wide effort, but there are some unique opportunities at EWC,” EWC vice president for academic services Dr. Heidi Edmunds said. “What it’s really specifically designed for, I guess in my own words, is to help identify the needs of the workforce of Wyoming and to try to as efficiently as possible assist students in finding employment in those areas.”
The idea behind the Wyoming Works grant is to enter the workforce quick. The program was somewhat designed for those who may be interested in changing career fields and are non-traditional students. That’s not to say this isn’t available for traditional students, but those who may be wanting to get further education, or expand, or are unsure of how to pay for advanced education – this opens another doorway for Wyoming residents.
It’s designed with specific intentions to help people enter the workforce immediately. However, space and grant funding is limited and funding is only guaranteed for one year. So, EWC urges those even just thinking about it to stop by.
“I really encourage people to come in and visit with us,” Vice President for Student Services Rodger Humphrey said.
Grant amounts will be up to $1,680 per student, per semester for six semesters. A student’s grant amount will be limited to their remaining financial need after all other grants and scholarships are considered.
Dr. Edmunds feels the State of Wyoming identified that they do have a great program with the Hathaway that reaches many, but it doesn’t touch all of Wyoming’s needs or all of the states population.
“So, it’s to try to provide a next opportunity or an additional opportunity, for those who aren’t eligible for the Hathaway,” she said. “It provides some support for those people.”
Dr. Edmunds said the program is a great opportunity, but encourages anyone who is thinking about a class to come stop by the college.
“The requirements are there, but they can be confusing, so we encourage anyone interested to just stop by,” she said. “
Length of the programs will vary, from a two-week certified nursing assistant (CNA) certificate to a two-year welding degree.
“This is the type of bold leadership that demonstrates the strength of the partnership among education, industry, and policy-makers. Employers are sharing with us their needs and our community colleges are ready to respond,” said Sandy Caldwell, Executive Director of the Wyoming Community College Commission.
The Wyoming Works eligibility requirements include the following: must complete the FAFSA form, showing financial need; must be a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident, who meets the definition of an eligible non-citizen under federal financial aid requirements; must be a Wyoming resident; as required, must be registered with the selective service; must maintain satisfactory academic progress in the program; must be a new program participant starting Fall 2019 or later; must be enrolled in a eligible EWC program; a student may transfer from one approved program to another while maintaining continuous enrollment at EWC, or transfer to another Wyoming community college and enroll in an approved program at the transfer institution immediately after transfer; a student may be eligible for this grant for no more than three academic years (six semesters).
The following items would cause a student to NOT be eligible for a Wyoming Works Grant: the student cannot be currently receiving or eligible to receive the Hathaway scholarship, the student cannot be currently in default on a federal Title IV education loan, the student cannot owe a refund under a federal Title IV student financial aid program or a subsequently enacted similar federal student financial aid program, or a student financial aid program administered through the State of Wyoming.
Students must complete the EWC Application for Admission, complete the FAFSA, and complete the EWC Wyoming Works application form, indicating program of interest. All steps must be complete prior to the start of classes of the term for which they are applying.
The Wyoming Works program began as Senate File 122 (SF122) in Wyoming’s 65th Legislature. After passing both the House and Senate in February 2019, it was signed by Governor Gordon as Senate Enrolled Act 78 (SEA78). The legislation includes a $5 million appropriation; $3 million of which will be used for individual student grants, and the balance will support program development. Allocation details will be managed by the Wyoming Community College Commission, as these monies will be distributed among all seven Wyoming community colleges.
Programs that qualify under Wyoming Works are those which meet labor and economic development needs, and may be for-credit or non-credit. While there are currently 10 programs that are Wyoming Works eligible (see info box on page 6), EWC is the only college to offer two of those – veterinary aide (certificate) and veterinary technology (AAS). Another one that is going to hopefully be coming down the pike, and is special exclusively to EWC, will be precision ag.
Additional programs, which will also qualify for Wyoming Works grants, are under development. Please check the EWC website at ewc.wy.edu/wyomingworks/ or inquire with Academic Services for the most current list of eligible EWC programs.
“The list of eligible programs will continue to grow,” Edmunds said. “We encourage everyone to continue to check the list if there isn’t a program that fits what you are looking for now.”
“Businesses across the state are eager to demonstrate their workforce needs to community colleges to ensure the Wyoming Works program is a success for the newly trained employees, the schools that train them, and the businesses that hire them,” said Katie Legerski, Executive Director of the Wyoming Contractors Association. “This is especially true in the construction industry where private partners who have spent years working on workforce development issues are already engaged in the effort.”
Dr. Edmunds said you don’t need anything to get started. Individuals can email, call or stop by for information.
“There’s nearly an option for everyone,” she said. “Perhaps it may not be the Wyoming Works grant, but if they reach out, our financial aid office will help people find funding. Interested students should contact EWC at 307-532-8230 in Torrington, or 307-624-7000 in Douglas, or contact the Outreach Center in your community to begin the application process prior to the start of the Fall 2019 semester.