Can I Collect Unemployment Benefits in Massachusetts if I Want to Go to School?

by Nan East; Updated September 26, 2017
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If you want to go to school full time while you collect unemployment benefits in Massachusetts, you need approval from the state’s Division of Unemployment Assistance. Unless the state grants permission, attending school full-time affects eligibility to continue receiving jobless benefits. If you’re a part-time student, you must continue to meet eligibility requirements to collect a weekly benefit, but you don’t need approval.

Background

While you collect unemployment benefits in Massachusetts, you must conduct an active job search and you must be available for work. If you enroll in school or some other full-time training program, you won’t meet those requirements. While collecting unemployment, you must report your status weekly to the state to put in your claim for a weekly payment. If you’re only attending school part-time, it won’t necessarily affect your status if you also keep looking for a new job.

Training Opportunities Program

Massachusetts allows the Division of Unemployment Assistance to waive the work search requirement, and even to extend unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks for applicants attending approved training programs aimed at giving them new skills that will help them land jobs. You must file an application before your jobless benefits run out. In a poor economy, if high jobless rates trigger extended unemployment benefits, the state extends the application deadline. Normally, you must apply during the first 15 weeks that you collect unemployment.

Eligibility

In addition to meeting basic qualifications for unemployment benefits, applicants for the Training Opportunities Program need to meet other requirements. You can’t qualify if you didn’t work for a Massachusetts company or if your job loss isn’t permanent. The state also has to find that it’s unlikely that you’ll land another job without additional training because your skills are obsolete or not in demand. The program must also meet state requirements.

Considerations

The Division of Unemployment Assistance doesn’t pay tuition, although financial assistance may be available through other programs. The state requires regular attendance at an approved school or training program and you must continue to report your status weekly while you're in school. If an approved program breaks for three weeks or less, your benefits continue during the break. If you’re on extended benefits for training, your benefits stop during breaks of more than three weeks. If you’re still collecting regular unemployment, you need to look for a job during breaks of more than three weeks to receive benefits.

About the Author

Nan East began writing professionally in 1978 and worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers. Her work has appeared in the "Patriot Ledger" and other newspapers. She has awards from the New England Press Association and Suburban Newspapers of America and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Wheaton College.

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