Community colleges help pull families out of recession

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In an effort to make themselves more marketable, many older East Texans are grabbing their backpacks instead of a paycheck.   They are hoping to change professions or get more training for a better job.

"If I had to do it all over again, I would go back to college, soon as I got out of High School," said Tommy Finch, but all he has is now, and at 56 years old he's going back to college.

"I had to pick up on my math.  You know if you don't use it, you lose it," said Finch.

Angelina College said they're seeing a lot more students like Finch come through.

"We are seeing a lot of older students who are re-training, who are a little bit hesitant to come back to school, but the economy is forcing them to come back," said Angelina College Director of Student Financial Aid Susan Jones.

One student said he's coming back for a better paycheck.

"It's very important to come back to school.  You're never too old to learn," said college student Mingo Villanueva.

Something Finch, a former citation employee, learned fast.

"At my age, right now, I'm going to draw my unemployment and since citation is retraining, I'm going to take advantage of it," Finch said.

The college said it takes a recession to turn some back to the books.

"We always say that when the economy is bad, our business gets better and that's because people run back to education," said Angelina College Director of Enrollment Services Jeremy Thomas.

They college is willing to help where they can.

"Our job is to serve and to react to the situation in our community that's why we are a community college," said Jones.

Finch is thankful even if it means more algebra equations.

"Like the saying, I always thought you couldn't teach an old dog new tricks.  You can, you can, look at me I'm here, I'm doing it," Finch said.

Angelina College said if you need help paying for college, bring paperwork to the financial aid office, whether it's a letter from your employer that states your job hours have been cut, a final paycheck or a copy of your unemployment.   It could mean help for you and everyone going to college in your household.

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