FMCSA Awards Educational Funds for Veterans, Others to Get CDLs

Student driver
A student driver at a school. Some training and technical schools are receiving the grants. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)

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To help veterans, spouses and active duty military members gain truck driving jobs, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration awarded $3.1 million in grants to 19 community colleges and truck driving schools throughout the country.

“Veterans know how to safely get things where they need to go. At a time when our supply chain depends on having more qualified truck drivers, this program will give those who have served in uniform a new and important way to contribute, and benefit, by launching a new career in this vital industry,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an announcement Aug. 2.

FMCSA awarded the grants as part of its Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training Grant Program to help current and former members of the Armed Forces earn commercial driver licenses to become truckers.

The grant program aims to increase the number of CDL holders possessing enhanced operator safety training, while offering veterans, those serving in uniform (including National Guard members and reservists) and their spouses opportunities to drive trucks or buses. The federal funds are also meant to help qualified individuals from underserved communities.

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law increased federal funding of commercial motor vehicle operator safety training by $11.5 million. Grants will increase progressively to $3.2 million in fiscal year 2023, $3.3 million the following year, $3.4 million in the year after that and $3.5 million in 2026.

Receiving the highest grants are Commercial Driver Services Inc. from Woodford, Va., ($200,000), Nordic Enterprises of Stockton, Calif., ($198,429), the Community College of Baltimore County ($197,410) and Global Trucking Academy in Marksville, La., ($196,100).

Additional community colleges getting an influx of federal dollars include Klamath Community College of Oregon ($194,106), Lehigh Carbon Community College in Pennsylvania ($193,677), Collin Community College of Texas ($191,000) and Maryland’s Wor-Wic Community College ($147,550).

With experience as a commercial truck driver, Kelly Carey, Wor-Wic’s director of continuing education and workforce development transportation, was recently elected to serve a three-year term on the board of the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools. She is responsible for guiding the school’s transportation curriculum, including training for Class A and B licenses.

Iowa’s Hawkeye Community College will receive $132,359, with $112,500 going to Des Moines Area Community College.

Schools also receiving grants were Virginia-based Tidewater Community College ($102,769), Johnson County Community College of Kansas ($75,000) and Lone Star College System District in Texas ($60,600).

FMCSA encouraged a broader range of institutions to apply for the grants by no longer requiring applicants to propose local funding matches.

“This expansion will allow more qualified candidates from across the country to more easily be able to afford the training and licensing needed to join the trucking profession commercial motor vehicle drivers,” according to FMCSA.

Established in 1973 with multiple sites, Truck Driver Institute Inc. will receive $195,860. It has locations in Birmingham, Ala., Atlanta, Pensacola, and Orlando, Fla., Indianapolis, and South Bend, Ind., Louisville, Ky., Saucier, and Tupelo, Miss., Columbia, S.C., and Nashville, Tenn.

The following technical schools also were chosen: York County School of Technology in York, Penn., will receive $194,400, Advanced Technology Institute in Virginia Beach, Va., was granted $175,000 and Central Georgia Technical College in Macon will get $150,900.

Other Florida institutions getting grants are Northwest Florida State College ($186,480) and the Truck Driver Institute of FL Inc. ($195,860).

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