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by Ian
(Colorado )

I have been working between 30-32 hours a week as a salaried employee at my job with the University of Colorado for the last 5 years. I have been attending school either full or part-time for the last two years while continuing to work. I have been notified that my department will be eliminated and we will be out of work in two months. I know that I can qualify for unemployment in Colorado while attending school provided my class schedule does not interfere with my availability to work.

I'm wondering if, because I know ahead of time, it would be in my best interest to switch to an all online class schedule. My only non-online class is on Friday evening (6pm - 9pm) and Saturday morning (9am-12pm).

I am a data specialist by trade, so the typical work week for me would be the normal 8-5 M-F work week, but I don’t now how that is factored by the unemployment office. Would it be advantageous to register for all online classes in order to better demonstrate my work availability? That is, to show that school has no bearing on my work schedule. Will unemployment frown on evening and weekend classes if they would normally be outside the typical work week? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!


Hi Ian,

Initially, I think you'll be okay.

Since you know what the typical hours of work are in your specific labor market and you've asked a question that leads me to believe you've already followed that link to the comparison chart on treatment of students, which probably prompted the question about switching your Friday class to online, it sounds to me as if you want to remove any possibility of being found not able and available due to school attendance.

All I can think is .. oooh, that Ian is a perceptively, sharp guy. No wonder he works for the University of Colorado.

But most of all, I appreciate that you are trying to be preemptive of potential for troubles.

The chartbook, (table 5-16) clearly states, a disqualification is not imposed automatically, merely because of attending school while collecting unemployment.

However that small reference to "suitable work" is
flashing neon to me. School, not interfering with one's ability to accept suitable work is like a rabbit hole.

On the surface, I see nothing wrong with your school schedule per your reporting, but I frequently jump head first into eligibility rabbit holes.

I imagine possible scenarios of how the same situation can turn bad or just be perceived badly by the powers that be.

Many times the problem can be fixed with an appeal, but going without benefits you know you deserve to keep .. is a maddening hardship I wish everyone could avoid.

Let's imagine a scenario that I know has a potential for unintended conflict.

  • You apply for a job through Connecting Colorado right after becoming a register unemployment applicant.

  • Lucky you, you're called for a job interview!

  • But the suitable work doesn't sound too appealing to you because the pay is lousy. Heck, it's only half what the vast majority of the labor market is currently paying in the Denver/Boulder area for your field. And, the hours are screwy. The job would also conflict with your class Friday night.

    Although you applied for what you thought was a job in Boulder (this is just a scenario:) you didn't learn until the interview .. the job is actually, located in the Tech Center.

  • You tell the employer thanks, but no thanks thinking you have good cause to refuse on the grounds of distance and pay.

  • In the meantime, the employer, that likes listing jobs for free through the state because there is a vast pool of discouraged applicants, desperate to find work .. tells the state willingly, you refused the offer of work.

Forgetting that there may be legitimate reasons for the refusal of work, what issue do you think the state may attach to their reasoning to suspend your benefits pending an investigation of your availability for work?

Unemployment, suitable employment, job search records and knowing how to answer:

What would you do if offered a job that interferes with your class schedule?

Me .. I'd switch my classes to online classes just because they provide additional scheduling flexibility. That way I'd feel like I were staying in control of the potential of issues.


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