Nate Vandevender has been to college before. But when he first attended Ozarks Technical Community College following his high school graduation in 2014, he hit the double road block of little money and no clear goal.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and I didn’t have the money to continue,” Nate said. “I’d been out of college several years when the Fast Track grant was introduced. My family encouraged me to go for it. I looked at the list of careers and I chose one—now I’m going for it.”
Nate took advantage of the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant, which the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development debuted in 2019. Fast Track is designed to provide tuition assistance for adults older than 25, or for those younger than 25 who have been out of school for two years or more.
“Education changes lives,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education in Missouri. “This program opens up opportunities for training and education that many adults have not considered possible.”
The tuition assistance is not for all degree programs. It is designed to train students for high-need and high-paying occupations in the state, such as welding, manufacturing, nursing, surgical technology and teaching.
Nate is studying engineering at OTC while he works as a painter for TLC Properties. Once he earns his associate degree at OTC, he plans to transfer to the Missouri University of Science and Technology to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Nate’s ready to explore the opportunities that will open up to him once he completes his education.
“Right now, without an education, there’s definitely a cap to how much I can do,” Nate said. “I like my job and my coworkers, but if I continue my education I can have a job where I help people or invent something that helps people in their everyday lives.”
There are dozens of occupations eligible for the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant. For a full list of eligible programs at OTC, click here. After a student picks their program, the process is just like applying to college with an application to the college, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and applying for the Fast Track grant.
Nate, 24, encourages everyone to take advantage of the Fast Track grant.
“It’s never too late. It’s your life, do what you want,” Nate said.
If you have questions about the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant at OTC call 417-447-6931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.