Taking Classes Can Affect Unemployment Insurance


While securing a full time job is the most ideal exit strategy for cutting off unemployment insurance compensation the process of securing full time employment can be more progressive in particularly challenging economic conditions.

Taking classes to improve job prospects

During periods of long term unemployment many individuals take the opportunity to spend their surplus of free time taking classes to improve their chances of getting hired. In some instances severance packages specifically include funds earmarked exclusively for tuition reimbursement. The myriad of coursework the unemployed explore includes options for retraining to sharpen existing job skills as well as expanded personal improvement programs designed to teach complimentary or new skills. The ultimate goal of translating the time and effort involved in completing job related classes into full time work is preceded with steps to that end. Among the most immediate benefits of improving the marketability of a job candidate through course work are an instantly improved resume and productive talking points for discussion during job interviews.

Despite the positive influence that improving job skills by taking courses has on the outlook of employability beginning classes can adversely affect the unemployment income stream that many people in tough times depend on to live. The reason for this is that states do not want to have individuals taking advantage of the system by enrolling in full time graduate school programs while continuing to collect unemployment. As a rule of practicality full time students neither look for full time work on a daily basis nor do their schedules allow them to begin a job at any time. It is for these reasons that most states ask continued filers of unemployment insurance to report if they have begun taking any classes.

If an unemployment claimant properly reports that they began taking classes this does not automatically exclude them from receiving any unemployment insurance money that would otherwise be owed to them. If the course work is on a very part time and/or short term basis starting the class should not affect delivery of unemployment funds. The key to determining continued unemployment eligibility is based on reasonable expectations that the course work in question will not interfere with the ability of an individual to look for and begin work.

Reporting that a claimant began taking classes will in many cases trigger a response for a state representative to contact the claimant for an explanation. While no reasonable amount of course work should affect receiving unemployment compensation individuals considering registering for courses are encouraged to be proactive in initiating contact with the unemployment program in their home state to vet out any concerns before committing to a program. Due to staffing shortages many unemployment offices suffering a lack of resources are unresponsive to inquiries that come in through the phone and internet/email. If the most convenient methods of contact (email and phone) are not successful visiting a local unemployment office can be the best way to insure a timely response.

The ability to sit down with an unemployment department representative and speak face to face is particularly important because laws and rules vary from state to state. In many respects individual states by and large determine their unemployment guidelines autonomous of any federal oversight. For this reason blanket advice about which specific courses or programs, i.e. night school, community college, trade school, etc. are within the acceptable national parameters simply can not be given. Because staffing at unemployment centers can be thin anyone considering taking courses in the future should make an appointment with a state representative now in order to ensure securing a meeting to discuss options in advance of enrollment deadlines.


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