News: 316th ESC sponsors college planning workshop
CORAOPOLIS, Pa. - With the average four-year cost of college exceeding $100,000 for one child, planning and paying for education can be a huge concern for military families and children. In addition, with benefits such as the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, Yellow Ribbon program scholarships and more than 80 different 529 College Savings Plans to choose from, understanding all the college planning options for military families can seem overwhelming.
To address this, the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Army Reserve Child, Youth and School Services (CYSS) program coordinated and hosted a College Planning Workshop and College Fair, for military families, Jan. 25, at the McGarity Army Reserve Center, Coraopolis, Pa.
Ty Beck, the CYSS School Services specialist, and event coordinator, said the event was open to service members of all branches and their children pursuing a higher education. Beck added, the event was created because families wanted CYSS to address and provide assistance with college preparation and scholarships.
This led Beck to develop the College Planning Workshop and College Fair event. She began by reaching out to several local colleges and universities for guest speakers to present information in important areas necessary for college preparation i.e., the admissions process, financial aid, education benefits, and scholarships.
In total, 27 adults, 14 children and more than 20 organizations participated in the workshop that discussed topics like, SAT/ACTs, the college admissions process, financial aid, military scholarships, education benefits and the G.I. Bill.
The workshop included local high school and college representatives from; West Allegheny High School, Robert Morris University, Community College of Allegheny County, University of Pittsburgh, Geneva College, ITT Technical Institute, Career Training Academy, Slippery Rock University, Penn State Beaver, Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, Bidwell Training Center, and La Roche College.
One of the families braving the polar vortex of cold and snow was Staff Sgt. Christopher Kotch, construction equipment mechanic with 377th Engineer Company, Butler Pa., and his son, a junior in high school.
"This meeting has given us the tools and resources to fine-tune a plan for college. Things have changed a lot since I went through the college process, so bringing together all these subject matter experts to guide us through the necessary steps is very helpful," said Kotch.
Workshops like this and the CYSS program support the U.S. Department of Education’s priorities for supporting education opportunities for Service members and Beck provides assistance to Army Reserve families with education related needs. “The mission of school support services is a driving force for student success,” she said.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said, "The men and women who serve in our Nation's armed forces place a high value on education and the availability of quality educational opportunities for their children," adding, "The U.S. Department of Education is committed to providing children of military families the support and education they need to thrive, as well as expanding educational opportunities for military spouses and veterans."
Feedback on the workshop was resoundingly positive with one attendee saying, “I wish I had the opportunity to attend a workshop like this one when my first daughter applied to college.”
Beck added, most of the attendee said learning about paying for college was the most important piece of information they learned along with expressing a desire for continuing these types of workshops.