Aiding Locals and the Unemployed: Tuition Breaks and Scholarships Help Sweeten the Sour Economy for Students

Article excerpt

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES are sparing more than dimes these days. Several are creating financial incentives for state residents, especially those who lost their jobs due to the economy.

Last month Syracuse University's (N.Y.) School of Information Studies unveiled "Upstate IT Scholarships," which will cover 50 percent of tuition costs for the 2009-2010 academic year. Applicants must submit a 500-word essay on how their education will help them play a role in enhancing the upstate New York region's workforce. "We have companies ... that need people trained in information technology and residents that need jobs, and we're a school that can teach IT," says Dean Elizabeth Liddy. She anticipates the effort will lead to strengthened relations with area businesses, improved curricula to fit current job needs, and students who stay in the area after graduation. "I think of it as an investment for the long term."

At the Sacramento Center for Graduate Studies in California, part of Drexel University (Pa.), officials have cut tuition in half for laid-off workers enrolling in graduate programs in September. Called "Bridge to the Future," the program aims to help the region's workers prepare for a recovering economy. Applicants must have been laid off after December 2007 from a full-time job and currently unable to find new employment. Carl "Tobey" Oxholm III, dean and CEO, says the program is like an insurance policy for the area. "It keeps the 'brains' of its region here," he explains. "It's an investment in the region, [an] investment in the people who are going to be driving the economic wave when it returns."

Other initiatives include the following:

* Missouri State University: Unveiled in February on the Springfield and West Plains campuses, the RENEW (Renewed Employability Now Education Waiver) program helps unemployed Missouri workers obtain a degree. …