FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- While President Biden recently proposed two years of free community college, Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne is taking a different approach.
Thirteen students signed on to work with different manufacturing companies in the area while attending school at Ivy Tech.
They will have three days of on-the-job training and learning and two days in the classroom each week.
They’ll be paid enough money to pay their tuition, and the goal is for them to have no student debt when they finish.
Nadia Handy, a Warsaw High School senior who signed to work with Zimmer Biomet, put it simply when asked about the cost of higher education.
“It’s pretty crazy I’ll tell you that,” she said.
But Ivy Tech and the Northeast Indiana Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) want to change that.
“With manufacturing being such a core to the economy here, it’s critical that we create that bridge,” Northeast Indiana FAME Chair Jeff Hansen said.
And it could be a weight off of these students’ shoulders.
“With what this program is gonna allow me to do, it’ll allow me to at least take a breath and realize that I don’t have to pay extra school bills and be able to better help myself,” Handy said.
Jayce Meyer, an Angola High School senior who will work at Steel Dynamics, was inspired by his family to enter this program.
“Well actually my dad works at Steel Dynamics so he was a big encourager of it,” Meyer said, “and I just know how great the company is and the camaraderie between everybody.”
And to be debt-free at the end?
“That’s probably one of the best things ever,” Meyer said.
Hansen says the benefits reach much further than just the students and companies.
“It’s a real collaborative working together to do great things for the students, great things for the employers, great things for manufacturing, and great things for the northeast indiana community,” he said.
Handy wants to encourage students looking at their post-high school options to consider this opportunity.
“Go for it because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “When are you ever gonna get it again to be able to be debt free and still have an associate’s degree.”