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Originally published March 25, 2009 at 12:31 AM | Page modified March 25, 2009 at 12:39 AM

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Oregon Tech, KCC offer free tuition to laid-off Oregonians

It's never a good time to lose your job. But now isn't so bad if you want to attend the Oregon Institute of Technology or Klamath Community College.

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. —

It's never a good time to lose your job. But now isn't so bad if you want to attend the Oregon Institute of Technology or Klamath Community College.

The presidents of the two Klamath Falls schools announced Tuesday that any Oregon resident who was laid off since October 1 can take classes for free during the spring term on a space-available basis.

Students accepted into the program will have to pay for their own books, school fees and parking permit, if needed. The spring term begins Monday, but OIT is giving potential applicants until April 1 to notify the school of their interest. The community college will let qualified students apply until April 13.

"We all know higher education can open doors, so this is our chance to help our fellow Oregonians in these tough times," OIT President Chris Maples said.

The schools are taking different approaches to the offer. The KCC program is open to those who lost their full- or part-time or seasonal employment. It has an initial capacity of 30 new students. Students must take three core classes on college orientation, business and psychology and also receive tutoring, career services and academic planning.

Those hoping to attend OIT can only have lost a full-time job. It's unclear how many students the school will take on.

Maples told the Herald and News newspaper that the program is being introduced only days after it was suggested as a concept, so some details are still being worked out.

OIT spokeswoman Kristina Maupin said one potential hurdle for applicants is the status of their unemployment benefits. According to WorkSource Oregon, those unable to work because of school attendance may be disqualified from receiving benefits.

Maupin said there can be exceptions to the rule. She said prospective students should speak with their unemployment benefits counselor and be willing to drop out of the program if a job comes along.

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Information from: Herald and News, http://www.heraldandnews.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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