A Pathway out of Poverty: the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program

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Thanks to legislative action in 2016, more Maine people will have the opportunity to enroll in the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program (CSSP).  CSSP provides eligible Mainers with access to post-secondary education or training for industry-recognized credentials that will lead to skilled, high-wage jobs that are in demand in our economy.  CSSP also provides supports needed to successfully participate in these programs, including help with child care, transportation, books, supplies, and tuition when it is not available from another source.  CSSP participants with incomes below 125% of the federal poverty level may also be eligible for a monthly cash stipend to help with living expenses. (Check here to see if your family income is below 125% of the poverty level)

As of April 2016, CSSP has openings for new enrollees in the following counties:  Androscoggin, Oxford, Somerset, Waldo, and York.  If you live in one of these counties and want to apply for CSSP you must complete an application form and submit it to your local CareerCenter.  You can download the application form next to your county’s name at this website

You can also call your local CareerCenter directly and ask for an application.  Here is a link to find your local CareerCenter.  You can also call 1-888-457-8883 (TTY users call MaineRelay 711) to be directed to your CareerCenter.

If your county does not currently have openings in the CSSP Program, you can check this website periodically to see if there are openings, or call your local CareerCenter to see when they anticipate more program openings.

You may qualify for CSSP if you:

  • Live in Maine;
  • Are at least 18 years of age;
  • Are legally eligible to work in the U.S;
  • Are applying for education or training for a job in a high-wage, in-demand occupation;
  • Do not currently have a marketable post-secondary degree;
  • Have the ability to undertake and complete the program, education or training; AND
  • Have an income of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level for family size. (Check here to see if you have income less than 200% of the federal poverty level.)

CSSP is now also accepting a limited number of younger studentswho are currently enrolled full-time in a public secondary school career and technical education program if the student meets the CSSP eligibility requirements even if they are under age 18.