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Can you go to college and still collect unemployment in Indiana?

by missy
(Fort Wayne, IN)

My name is Missy. My boyfriend and I have a child together. He has worked in the construction field for 10+ years. He was laid off in December 09. Until then I was a stay at home mom. Since he lost his job we have both been searching for work, with no luck. He desperately wants to go back to school, but is concerned with losing his unemployment benefits, our only current income. We live in Indiana. Is it possible for him to attend school without jepordizing his unemployment? please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Thank you,

Hi Missy,

Since whether going to college or attending a school of any kind is a very state specific with regard to the eligibility condition to receive unemployment of being able and available for suitable work is concerned I always and suggest for anyone else to first Check the USDOL's comparison of state UI laws. The relevant information is found in Table 5-12 of the Nonmonetary charbook.

What this table tells you for Indiana unemployment is that if someone quits work to attend school it is disqualifying unless they are "trade act training", but it also says that if you are already collecting unemployment:

"No, not disqualified, provided school attendance
does not interfere with availability
to accept work, and the student is
actively seeking work."

Please note the actively seeking work part.

Since construction workers normally work daytime hours .. Monday through Friday, any school attendance outside of the "normal hours" should not interfere with benefits being received.

There are a few pointers though to minimize any problems cause by "miscommunication" or faulty assumptions.

Call the UI dept first and ask the questions needed to verify that the attendance at school won't cause problems first.

Additionally, I think it would be wise to check into a grant if he presently does not have a degree .. if he hasn't already.

This might also be a possibility for you as well, because to get a grant you do not need to be collecting unemployment benefits and there are a lot of accredited online schools which eliminate the need for childcare for Moms going back to school.

The state employment office or whatever Indiana calls their federally funded Career OneStop offices is the place to begin researching. They offer workshops, career assessment tools and quite a lot of help for those looking for a way out of unemployment. Many states might actually have programs which allow for benefits while going to school and suspending the need to look for a job while in school .. so ask.

My best advice is don't hesitate based on fear of losing benefits, but to lose any fear of the consequences educating yourself might present by "working within the system".

I know it can see confining and at times overwhelming if you've happened to read some of the stories here, but I'm inclined to find ways to surmount problems instead of being paralyzed by fear and worry of all the "what ifs" life has to offer.

I wish you well Missy in Indiana:)


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