Timothy Hall knew he had to start college. He knew getting ahead in an increasingly competitive economy required a college education.

He hadn’t finished high school, and his academic skills needed brushing up. Hall turned to South Florida State College (SFSC).

The 21-year-old Hardee County resident signed up for SFSC’s GED class at its Hardee Campus in Bowling Green.

But there was one problem.

The cash-strapped Hall could not cover the state-mandated $28.50 tuition required to enroll in the class, an amount not covered by traditional financial aid programs.

Now, because of grant funding from Suncoast Credit Union, Hall has enrolled in class this fall and is on track to start college credit work at SFSC in the spring.

“One of our adult education instructors, Vent Crawford, saw that too many prospective students were not signing up for GED classes because they couldn’t afford the nominal tuition and testing fees,” said Teresa Crawford, the director of SFSC’s Hardee Campus.

Crawford said the instructor took the initiative last year by seeking grant aid from Suncoast to fund GED tuition and testing fees for students who had no other avenue open to them for assistance.

The Tampa-based credit union awarded SFSC’s Hardee Campus initiative $1,000 last year to target assistance to these students.

“With that seemingly modest award, we were able to help more than a dozen students enroll in adult education classes,” Crawford said.

Now, with a follow-on award of $500 this summer, Hall and other students at SFSC’s Hardee Campus are working toward their GED, making a college degree or occupational certificate possible for them.

To receive assistance, students complete an application to determine whether they are eligible.

“Suncoast recognized that investing a small sum per student could yield impressive results,” Crawford said. “Because they stepped in, $28.50 won’t stop Timothy Hall from getting an education.”