2017-04-16 / Viewpoints

Chalk Talk

By Edward S. Graham, PhD
Superintendent Montrose Schools

Spring has arrived along with the frantic pace of activities that accompany the end of each school year. Of course, the culminating event for each school is graduation – the moment when schools affirm that another class of students has met all requirements and wish them well as we gently nudge them “out of the nest” and into all that life offers beyond high school.

While graduation from high school is exciting and a major life accomplishment, most students quickly realize that a high school diploma is not the end of their formal education. Whether it is a certification program, training in a skilled trade occupation, military service, community college, or a university, the gateway into many occupations demands some level of specialized training or degree attainment. Unfortunately, that type of training is rarely free and probably most students are looking for some financial assistance to help get them started. Thankfully, the Genesee Opportunity Stipend is available to help.

Voters passed the Genesee Opportunity (GO) Stipend ballot proposal on Aug. 2, 2016. Through this “one-of-a-kind” program, all students who live in, and graduate from a high school or home school in, Genesee County are eligible to receive the GO stipend, regardless of family income level. The stipend helps offset tuition and mandatory training costs/certification testing; and is paid directly to approved colleges and training institutions, both in-state and out-of-state.

All 2017 graduates who wish to use the GO Stipend must submit an application form, which is available online at www.geneseego.org. Those looking for more information about the Genesee Opportunity stipend, can call (810) 591-GCGO (4246). While there is much more information available at the website noted, here are few quick facts:

Who is eligible? Graduates from a Genesee County school, resident and taxpayer of Genesee County (parent or guardian), graduate acceptance for post-secondary institution or training, and registered home school students.

When are the graduates eligible? Funds can be used immediately following graduation and students are eligible to receive funding for one year after high school graduation.

When are the applications due? The application includes a one-page form and a Release of Education Records to be signed and submitted. It may be obtained from the high school counselor or downloaded from the website www.geneseego.org.

How long are the graduates eligible? The 2017 graduates were eligible to begin submitting applications March 27. All money needs to be used by May 31 of the year following graduation.

What are they eligible for? Funds can be used to pay for tuition or mandatory program training costs/certification testing only. Funds cannot be used for “activity” or religious courses.

Can it pay for books? No

Are application fees covered? No

Can it pay for room and board? No

What training programs and/or postsecondary educational institutions qualify? Licensed and accredited training programs and/or postsecondary educational institutions (both in-state and out-of-state) qualify. Training programs could include business/industry certification trainings, apprenticeships, career center certification classes, etc. Funds can be used for training or courses that are not ordinarily taken as an activity course, hobby, craft, or recreational course, Funds cannot be used in the subject areas of physical education, theology, divinity, or religious education.

What institutions would not qualify? Most institutions qualify. To find lists of licensed and accredited colleges and training institutions, visit http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search. aspx.

When would I get my money? The funding goes directly to the training entity or postsecondary educational institution. Funds are dispersed beginning with the fall semester for qualified graduates after the drop/add period or as directed by the program.

Soon to be graduates - Don’t miss your chance to get some help with the expenses of training and education that will prepare you for the opportunities of tomorrow – apply today!

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