The U.S. Department of Labor backed grants pay tuition and other college costs for students enrolled in career-focused programs and Chemeketa is looking to fill 30 spots.
Truck driving students inspect a trailer before a hands-on lesson at Chemeketa Community College. The program is one of several eligible for free tuition under the college’s Job Corps Scholars program (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
A local program aimed at helping to make career-focused college courses attainable is running out of time.
At the start of 2020, Chemeketa Community College was one of 26 colleges selected to receive U.S. Department of Labor funds to distribute as scholarships. The money would pay for tuition, books and other costs for students who enrolled in career-focused programs such as automotive technology or medical assisting.
Dubbed the Job Corps Scholars Program, the first class to get a free ride stepped into classrooms in 2020 but come 2023, the grant money dries up.
“We are trying to reach out to see if we can get the word out there to an audience that there is a scholarship opportunity,” said Deroll Barrett, coordinator for the program.
There are only four requirements for students to be eligible to receive free tuition: they must be in the U.S. legally, enroll in a qualifying program, meet the federal definition of low income and be between the ages of 16 and 24.
However, there is wiggle room.
“If they have a documented disability we can waive the upper age limit,” Barrett said. “And they can provide documentation for meeting the low income requirement. If they qualified for free or reduced lunch in high school or received government assistance, that counts.”
Felipe Camacho enrolled in the automotive technology program at Chemeketa in 2020 and is expected to graduate this summer thanks, in part, to the Job Corps Scholars Program. When Camacho finishes his classes, he hopes to get started in a local mechanic shop and work towards opening his own in the near future.
“I probably wouldn’t have taken classes without their help,” the Salem native said.