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Paying for career and workforce training

When it comes to paying for workforce and career training, there are some well-known, and not-so-well-known funding sources to help reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. And while FastForward is one of the most affordable training options in Virginia, the cost may still be prohibitive to some (especially once you factor in transportation and childcare).

We’ve rounded up a handful of funding resources that could be helpful to know about, but as always, connect with your local FastForward Career Coach to help connect the dots between what’s out there and what you may be eligible for.

Federal and national opportunities

U.S. Department of Labor, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): WIOA is a piece of federal legislation that has lots of bells and whistles associated with it, but the one we wanted to mention was dollars to help offset your training costs. WIOA was signed into effect in 2014 and helps over 20 million Americas each year by providing $10 billion in assistance – which includes grants for eligible individuals and programs.

Your first step to take advantage of this – and other similar funding – is to go to Virginia Career Works and find your local career center. These one-stop centers will help you figure out what your eligible for and will help connect the dots to other assistance (like if you qualify for SNAP benefits and how that could relate back to your training).

Mike Rowe Works Foundation: Yep, we’re talking about that Mike Rowe, the one from “Dirty Jobs.” He has a national scholarship for individuals pursuing trades. In 2020, there were two winners from Virginia. Keep an eye on this page for more information about the 2021 scholarship.

Various industry scholarships: FastForward training helps you earn industry certifications through organizations like the American Welding Society and CompTIA, and these organizations also offer funding for their trainings.

Virginia-specific opportunities

FastForward: At our core, FastForward is a grant-funded program that automatically reduces tuition for our eligible students at a third of the regular cost.

Virginia Ready: This is a new opportunity for Virginians who have lost their job due to COVID-19 and are looking to pursue one of a few dozen in-demand careers. Once you enroll in a FastForward training session, complete the training and earn a credential, you’ll receive a $1,000 incentive.

Your local community college: FastForward is offered locally through the community colleges across Virginia, and because of that, there might be specific scholarship opportunities that are available at your college that wouldn’t be published anywhere else. Here is an example from Camp Community College.