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Tuition Help at STC
Tuesday, 06 December 2011

December 6--  The Southeastern Technical College Foundation has voted to supply additional funding to Commercial Truck Driving (CTD) students to offset the decreased award offered by the HOPE program.

When changes were made to HOPE early this year, the CTD program was hit particularly hard. The seven-week program’s total cost is $3,475, and before the changes, students receiving HOPE only had to pay $408 out of pocket. That has now risen to $1,150.

“The cost to run this program is very expensive to begin with,” said Ricky Strange, CTD instructor. “So, when they made these changes, it hurt us really bad. Our enrollment dropped about 60 percent.”

That drop isn’t limited to STC. Statewide enrollment in technical college CTD programs is down 40 percent this semester. This comes despite Georgia Department of Labor estimates that the state will need 3,700 more truck drivers in 2012.

So, when the STC Foundation called a special meeting on November 30, the topic was economic growth and how CTD fits into that.

“CTD is an extremely important program because it ties in to manufacturing in the area and is needed for continuous growth for our region,” said Eide Nesmith, executive director of the STC Foundation. “We can’t transport anything without trucks and trucks need drivers.”

The foundation’s executive committee voted and came down in favor of providing scholarships of up to $750 for students of the CTD program, returning the students’ out-of-pocket expense to pre-HOPE-change levels.

"Helping our students with tuition and fees is the job of the foundation,” said Dennis Ingley, treasurer of the STC Foundation. “We are fortunate to be able to help primarily because our community has been very generous and seen the benefits of technical education. We owe it to our community to fund this cost."

The scholarships will be available for the next two CTD classes offered by Southeastern Technical College, the first beginning on January 9. State legislators have expressed a desire to start a loan program for CTD in their 2012 session, as the nine-semester-hour program is too short to qualify for standard student loans, so there is hope for a long-term solution.

As of right now, though, the feeling in the CTD program is positive, and even on the day the scholarships were announced, word began to spread.

“I had one person sign up in Swainsboro just that morning,” said Strange. “Friends are telling friends, former students are spreading the word. We’re getting out there every way we can.”

If you would like to donate to help support the CTD program, contact Eide Nesmith at 912-538-3133 or enesmith@southeasterntech.edu. For more information on CTD, call 912-538-3100 or 478-289-2200, or visit www.southeasterntech.edu.

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