Unemployment insurance was implemented to provide income to employees who are out of work through no fault of their own. In the United States, unemployment compensation is administered by each individual state, although the federal government may provide funds to support the program. When you lose a job, it may be because your industry is shrinking. Retraining is an option that may widen your re-employment opportunities. The agencies that administer unemployment insurance are typically supportive of workers who return to school.
Tell the agency you are attending school. When you first apply for benefits, agencies such as California's Employment Development Department will ask, via the application form, whether you are attending or planning to attend school. If you have already enrolled in an education program, be sure to provide the appropriate information. If you are thinking about going back to school, the agency may want to know which school you are considering and what you are planning to study.
Enroll in a retraining program. Government programs, such as the Workforce Investment Act, or WIA, may allow you to collect unemployment benefits for as long as you are enrolled in a degree or certificate program at an approved institution. Typically, you will meet with a WIA counselor, choose a program of study and select an institution. In some cases, you may receive a full or partial grant for tuition and books in addition to continuing to receive weekly benefits.
Follow instructions as to continued eligibility. Naturally, the state agency administering any workforce retraining government program will need to confirm that you are actually attending classes at the approved institution. This may mean you will need a signature from school personnel on the benefit claim form you file weekly or biweekly with the state agency. You may also be required to meet with your retraining program counselor to update him or her on your progress while you are receiving benefits. Be sure to comply with any and all regulations to ensure your continued eligibility to receive benefits while attending school.
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