WARNER ROBINS -- Local technical college officials are trying to plan ahead, hoping to pre-empt a proposed change to adult education testing costs.
Career Pathways, a Middle Georgia Technical College offering, applied for a nearly $15,000 city-issued Community Development Block Grant to help offset the proposed cost increase for General Education Development tests.
Brenda Brown, vice-president of adult education at Middle Georgia Tech, said they hope to provide scholarships to help students pay the testing fee.
Career Pathways assists individuals who are seeking their GED diploma to transition into the technical college by jointly enrolling in the GED program and the technical college, Brown said.
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The GED classes are offered for free, but students must pay for the test, which currently costs $95 for all five parts -- language arts-writing, social studies, science, language arts-reading and mathematics.
Technical College System of Georgia officials announced last year that they were considering a price increase but later postponed taking any action.
In April they said test-takers would be charged as much as $250 for all five parts of the test. The increase was set to take effect in July 2011, but the board later voted to rescind the plan and wait until at least early 2012 to reconsider the cost.
The price increase is supposed to coincide with the launch of a computer-based GED test.
Mike Light, executive director of communications for the technical college system, said a decision likely won’t be made until later this year, and although a price increase is likely, it probably won’t be as high as previously projected.
Brown said she is anticipating an increase this year that would bring the total cost of the test to about $130, prompting her to apply for the grant on behalf of Career Pathways.
“Right now, we’re trying to definitely help with the economic development in our area as far as putting people to work,” Brown said. “We know that people definitely need a high school diploma, and with this job market (they) would probably (also) need a certificate to enroll in college.”
Nearly 20,000 Georgians passed the test and obtained their GED diploma in 2010, according to the technical college system.
Career Pathways, a first-time applicant, was one of 14 applications submitted earlier this month seeking funding for the public services sector, which receives 15 percent of the CDBG budget, said Sherri Windham, Warner Robins community development block grant program director.
The Community Development Block Grant is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with additional funds coming from city-issued housing loans, Windham said.
A draft of the CDBG distributions will be reviewed at a public hearing Feb. 7 at City Hall. Mayor and council must approve a final draft before it is sent to HUD by May 15.
Windham expects to have about $87,500 in grant money to give to nonprofits for public services, but the applicant requests combined total more than $500,000, she said.
If Career Pathways obtains the CDBG funds, some of the money may also be spent to help students pay for textbooks.
“The HOPE grant was decreased this year, so it no longer includes the book scholarship, and that is usually the largest expense for adult learners getting back in school,” Brown said, adding that she plans to apply for other literacy grants that provide funding for adult education.
To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751.