‘I’m not stressed’: guaranteed income programs are changing the lives of American parents

The Guardian

By his mid-20s, Tommy Andrade was tired of working dead-end jobs. With a young child at home, he realized he needed more than a high school diploma to support his family. When he heard about a new, advanced manufacturing program at a Texas community college, Andrade was intrigued.

Some of the jobs that graduates from Austin Community College (ACC) would be trained for carried salaries well into the six figures, enough to give Andrade financial security, he figured, even in a city like Austin where the cost of living was spiking fast.

Supreme Court<br>UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 10:  Kenya Battle, 17, a junior at Dunbar High School in Northwest, stands outside of the Supreme Court as the justices heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas case, which could limit affirmative action practices that colleges and universities use in admissions departments.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

But first Andrade would have to take a pay cut: the 14-week program required him to participate in an internship that paid $17 an hour, less than he’d earned in his previous jobs as a salesman and bookkeeper. He worried he wouldn’t be able to afford rent, bills and after-school care for his son.

Then came some unexpected good news: ACC was launching a new guaranteed income pilot program for student parents, and program officials wanted him to join. Participants would receive $500 a month for two years with a few conditions: they must enrol in nine credits each semester and attend monthly meetings with other student parents.

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