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CWC leaders in Washington for summit with lawmakers

Feb 14, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Members of the Central Wyoming College Board of Trustees are in Washington, D.C., this week for the 2014 National Legislative Summit.

The annual meeting brings together more than 1,000 trustees, presidents, students and other advocates of the nationwide community college system. Participants meet with legislators about the importance of continued funding for schools throughout the United States.

The schedule for CWC included a Wednesday meeting with Wyoming's federal delegation -- Sen. Mike Enzi, Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis.

Pell grants

CWC president Jo Anne McFarland reviewed national topics of interest with board members during their regular meeting last month. As in previous years, she said trustees should talk about the importance of federal aid through Pell grants.

"(That) tops the agenda," McFarland said in her memo to the board. "Many CWC students require federal financial aid to attend college."

For the current school year, 344 CWC students received $1.6 million in Pell grants, or an average of $4,725 per student. McFarland said $4,224 is the current average loan amount per recipient.

More students received Pell grants in earlier years, but the amount was less per person. In 2012-2013, about 570 students got $1.94 million, or $3,399 per person. And in 2011-2012, 665 CWC students received $2.27 million, or $3,408 per student.

Other funds

Community colleges also support funding to serve special student populations, McFarland continued. For example, federal Trio programs are designed for students from "disadvantaged backgrounds," according to the U.S. Department of Education, and Gear Up is meant to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared for postsecondary education.

"(These grants) support low income, at risk and first-generation college students (who are) typically served by community colleges," McFarland said.

She pointed out that CWC serves a large at-risk, minority and low-income student population.

Community colleges often are primary providers for workforce training programs, and McFarland said those courses benefit from federal appropriations as well. She mentioned the Carl D. Perkins Vocational-Technical Education Act, the Workforce Investment Act and provisions in other federal programs like the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

"(They all) provide funds for job training needed to secure employment," she said.

In 2013-2014, CWC students received $2.1 million in loans or other financial assistance through various subsidized loans or direct benefits for training assistance, McFarland said in her memo.

The total includes $1.7 million in subsidized and unsubsidized federal direct loan funds, $40,000 in TRIO funds, about $34,000 from the Perkins act and $267,000 from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program.

"Primarily to provide a wider array of workforce training and undergraduate research opportunities for our students, CWC has been very aggressive in seeking a variety of competitive grants," she said. "(We) personally thank our legislators for their past support of grants that allow the college to provide important programs and services to our students."

In 2012-2013, CWC had 50 federal supplemental educational opportunity grant recipients. About $35,500 in Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants was awarded, and 29 students earned more than $38,000 in funding through the federal work-study program. Almost 400 students were federal direct loan recipients.

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