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Employment Development Department
Employment Development Department

Federal Initiative for Job Training or Education

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On May 8, 2009, President Obama announced a federal initiative to allow unemployed workers or their dependents expanded access to financial aid for education and training during a period of economic uncertainty. This initiative enables applicants who apply for student federal financial aid to qualify based on their current economic status.

Beginning with the 2009-2010 academic years, the Federal Student Aid office within the U.S. Department of Education that issues the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was mandated to broaden the eligibility criteria to include the unemployed status of an applicant, spouse, or parent.

Generally, federal grant aids such as the Pell Grant are available if you:

This federal initiative encourages financial aid administrators to use their discretion when determining your eligibility if you are receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. In addition to completing a FAFSA, you may be asked to provide UI documentation to the financial aid administrator so that your current financial status, including “special circumstance,” is considered along with your past income information.

Although the Employment Development Department (EDD) cannot assist you with seeking or obtaining Pell Grants and other federal or state student aid, you can find additional information on the FAFSA and apply online at or

After you have applied for federal student aid, you may be required to show proof to your school’s financial aid office that you are currently receiving unemployment insurance benefits. The following documents are proof that you are receiving UI benefits:

While you are receiving UI benefits, EDD asks that you report any school attendance because this may affect your eligibility for benefits. In California, even if a Pell Grant or other federal or state financial aid is awarded, you must continue to be available for and seek full-time work, or be approved for the California Training Benefits (CTB) program to receive UI benefits. If you plan to pursue any additional training EDD encourages you to review the types of training that can be approved under the CTB program by reviewing the Benefit Determinations Guide, the CTB Fact Sheet, and the Tips for Qualifying for the CTB Program in the following links.

The Benefit Determination Guide, Miscellaneous, Section 85, provides the policy and law resource that EDD staff will use to determine your eligibility for CTB once you have started school and you have been scheduled for a telephone eligibility interview.

For more information about eligibility requirements for the CTB program and how to apply, see the following links: