CCBC to of­fer tu­ition free cour­ses be­gin­ning this fall

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By MIKE URSERY murs­ery@ches­pub.com

The COVID-19 pan­demic has wrought dif­fi­cult eco­nomic con­di­tions on Dun­dalk and all of Bal­ti­more County, but the Com­mu­nity Col­lege of Bal­ti­more County (CCBC) will soon in­tro­duce a so­lu­tion for those seek­ing a change.

Be­gin­ning with the fall se­mes­ter, CCBC will of­fer tu­ition-free cour­ses to all those who qual­ify. CCBC’s pres­i­dent, San­dra Kur­tini­tis, said this will be made pos­si­ble due to a com­bi­na­tion of fed­eral pell grants, schol­ar­ship funds and fed­eral stim­u­lus money.

“What we’ve done is we’ve put ev­ery­thing into one pot,”

Kur­tini­tis told this news­pa­per. “That’s an odd way to say it, but we have fed­eral stim­u­lus that we’ve re­ceived that must go to stu­dents. We have an in­crease in our Bal­ti­more County Promise Schol­ar­ship fund­ing.”

Kur­tini­tis said that tu­ition-free cour­ses are com­ing at a time when un­em­ploy­ment is high and peo­ple are un­sure about what the fu­ture holds. The “tu­ition­free” part is made pos­si­ble due to CCBC pool­ing to­gether sev­eral schol­ar­ships, as well as fed­eral and state stim­u­lus fund­ing it has re­ceived that must be spent on stu­dents, she said.

“Given this time we are in, this pan­demic-in­fused dark­ness that we’ve all been in, peo­ple are hurt­ing, peo­ple have lost jobs, high school grad­u­ates but per­haps didn’t go off to their col­lege of choice,” Kur­tini­tis said. “Stu­dents of other col­leges are re­main­ing at home. We know that

there are a lot of peo­ple out there who are strug­gling to know what their next steps should be.”

Kur­tini­tis said that CCBC has pooled to­gether around $35 mil­lion for stu­dents to ap­ply for in or­der to take tu­ition-free cour­ses. Stu­dents must qual­ify to reg­is­ter cour­ses, and some of the schol­ar­ships have cer­tain re­quire­ments, such as res­i­den­tial re­quire­ments or house­hold in­come re­quire­ments, she said.

“If they qual­ify, we’re go­ing to do ever ything in our power to make it pos­si­ble for stu­dents who have been af­fected by [COVID-19] and even stu­dents who haven’t been af­fected by [COVID-19] but plan to come to CCBC, or are CCBC stu­dents any­way,” Kur­tini­tis said. “We’re just do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to make sure that the news gets out, that if you are in­ter­ested, we want to have a con­ver­sa­tion with you.”

Kur­tini­tis said that stu­dents who do qual­ify will have ac­cess to CCBC’s en­tire course cat­a­log. De­gree-seek­ing stu­dents will be able to take re­quired cour­ses in their re­spec­tive de­gree fields. Those who may be seek­ing a new tech­ni­cal skill will be able use schol­ar­ship money for work­force train­ing pro­grams, she said.

“We of­fer any­thing, whether it’s on­line, in-seat or hy­brid,” Kur­tini­tis said. “This is true for stu­dents who wish to pur­sue some type of de­gree pro­gram, but it is also true for peo­ple who have lost their jobs. We’ve re­ceived a very nice award from [Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s] stim­u­lus fund. He had $45 mil­lion to fund ed­u­ca­tion at all lev­els. He awarded $10 mil­lion to the com­mu­nity col­leges.”

“Be­cause we have such a large work­force pro­gram, we do so much in the non-credit world where in six weeks we can turn into a home health aide or a cer­ti­fied nurse as­sis­tant. It’s not al­ways that short of a time­frame, but peo­ple have lost their jobs. With­out jobs, and given that the stim­u­lus fund­ing ends this week, peo­ple who lost their jobs and need to get a new job are who we are reach­ing out to.”

Kur­tini­tis said that CCBC of­fers over 100 aca­demic pro­grams, but the com­mu­nity col­lege of­fers “hun­dreds” of short-term cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams.

Kur­tini­tis said that tu­ition-free cour­ses will con­tinue un­til all the money runs out. CCBC con­tin­ues to ap­ply for all pos­si­ble fund­ing and will con­tinue to do so go­ing for­ward, whether it be at the fed­eral or state level, or through pri­vate phi­lan­thropy, she said.

“We are scrap­ing ev­ery dol­lar we can into this one bucket be­cause we have peo­ple in our com­mu­ni­ties who are hurt­ing,” Kur­tini­tis said. “If my chil­dren were still of col­lege age, I’d be think­ing twice be­fore send­ing them back to Mas­sachusetts to live in a dorm and study on­line. I’d be think­ing, ‘maybe it’s bet­ter to spend a se­mes­ter or two at the com­mu­nity col­lege.’”

The CCBC Fall 2020 se­mes­ter is sched­uled to be­gin Aug. 31. Those who wish to reg­is­ter for fall cour­ses or to find more in­for­ma­tion about what is of­fered at CCBC can do so by vis­it­ing www.ccbcmd.edu.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DEBT SUCKS UNIVER­SITY

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