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Building trade students get college credits, primer in reducing debt
Warwick Beacon photo
BUILDING A LOW DEBT FUTURE: Matt Campanelli of the New England Institute of Technology talked last week with instructors and students in the building trades program at the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center. In addition to students, looking on are: instructor Brian Vadeboncoeur; director of secondary education, Dennis Mullen; center director William McCaffrey; and instructor Michael Haynes.

Matt Campanelli had some advice for construction trade students at the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center last week – live at home as long as you can, even while you’re seeking an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

The high school admission representative from the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) visited the center to finalize an articulation agreement between the institute and the center. Under the terms of the arrangement, students can earn up to nine NEIT credits while doing their regular studies at the center.

“You won’t have to be bored in class,” Campanelli told the students, as they would not be repeating work already completed.

“The skills you learn here are similar to what you learn in an associate’s degree program,” he said.

And there was another motivator – they wouldn’t be paying for those credits either.

The money caught a lot of interest and, using his own example, Campanelli talked of how to reduce the cost of student loans for higher education. Campanelli, who is 35 years old, said he and his wife still have an outstanding balance of $43,000 in student loans. So far on loans totaling $45,000, they have paid $27,000 in interest and $2,000 in principal.

His point was that, for every dollar not borrowed, students could substantially reduce their future loan payments enabling them to do other things, such as afford better housing or a car.

And Campanelli put one of the major costs of higher education as living on campus or renting an apartment with friends.

“Living at home is deferred gratification,” he said, “but what it can get you later is amazing.”

Even with such warning over cost, nearly all the students indicated with a show of hands that they intend to go on to an institution of higher learning. This was positive news to Warwick’s director of secondary education, Dennis Mullen. He saw it as dispelling the perception that vocational school is a final educational stop.

“What I like is not only are they prepared for a viable career, but also to go on to higher education,” he said.

Center director William McCaffrey said all center programs have matriculation agreements. Among the institutions are Johnson & Wales, CCRI, URI, Monroe College and NEIT.

The NEIT articulation agreement says that with successful completion of the construction trades program and acceptance at NEIT, students entering the Building Construction/Cabinetmaking Technology Associate Degree Program are entitled to an award of up to nine credits. The credits would be in tool and site work lab; introduction to blueprint reading; house framing, construction safety practices and OSHA; and cabinetmaking.

Perhaps to the dismay of many parents, instructor Michael Haynes added yet another benefit to staying at home for your college years.

“No one at the dorm is going to do your laundry,” he said.


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