North Central Educational Opportunity Center

TRiO - Educational Opportunity Centers LogoFree Support for Adult Learners

The NCEOC provides free and confidential financial aid, academic, and career counseling for adults living in the 29 cities and towns of North Central Massachusetts.

NCEOC Counselors help with:

  • GED/HiSet Information
  • MassReconnect Applications
  • Career planning
  • Financial Aid
  • College Planning
  • Financial and Economic Literacy
  • Veterans Education Resources

The NCEOC office is located at the Leominster Campus. Our education specialists also spend time at the Gardner campus and travel to community sites as needed. Call the NCEOC today at 978-630-9823 to make an appointment with an education specialist to get started on your college or career plans. Join the NCEOC to take advantage of the FREE services we have available to our members. Click the button to apply today!

North Central EOC Participant Application

Career Planning Guidance

The NCEOC can help you navigate the decision-making process involved in making career changes. So if already have a career and are looking for advancement, or are rethinking what you’d like to do for a living, our staff can help you analyze your skills and interests and define your career goals.  Come in and take the Career Exploration Inventory (CEI), or learn how to research careers on the Massachusetts Career Information System (MCIS) or Occupational Outlook Handbook site.

College Planning Help

Going to college is an investment of time, money, and effort so you want to be sure that you make smart choices along the way.  The NCEOC can help make your decisions easier, and help you build a realistic college plan.

Some questions you should ask when considering college or vocational training are:

  1. Does the school offer the type of program I want?
  2. Do I meet the admissions requirements?
  3. Does the school offer a high-quality education at a reasonable price?
  4. What are the job placement rates for recent graduates of the school?
  5. Is financial aid available for the program I am considering?

NCEOC education specialists can help you research college programs, apply for admissions, and apply for financial aid.

College Admissions Help

Applying to college can differ from school to school but always includes an Admissions Application and some kind of placement test that is used to determine your Math, English and Reading skills. Some schools may also want your high school grades or course grades from another college, SAT/ACT scores, an essay, or an interview. Most community colleges use a rolling admissions process, which means you can apply at any time during the year. Four-year colleges typically set deadlines that require that you have your application in by a certain date.

The Admissions and Financial Aid processes can run at the same time so initially, your college planning will include both steps. NCEOC Education Specialists are available to help you through both processes successfully.

Financial Aid

Applying for financial aid is one of the most important steps.. Getting assistance to pay for your classes can make the difference between attending college or not. NCEOC Education Specialists are available to help you through the financial aid process –  from determining (according to federal regulations) what income and personal information is needed on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), completing the electronic application, assisting with follow-up paperwork, and advocating on your behalf with your college’s Financial Aid Office.

The Financial Aid Office at the school you’re attending will compile your financial aid award. Your award can consist of federal, state and college funding and may include grants, which is free money, work-study, which is money earned through work, or loans, which is borrowed money. Each funding source sets the criteria for who receives aid. Most use the FAFSA as a starting point in determining eligibility. The FAFSA is available starting October 1st the year before you plan to enroll.

You must apply for financial aid each year that you attend college. Call the NCEOC for an appointment at 978-630-9823.


A lot of scholarships exist for those interested in pursuing college. Scholarships are awarded based on academics such as your grades, and/or financial need. Many private scholarships are available with their own criteria, including; ethnic heritage, geographic location, a program of study, hobbies, religious affiliations, gender etc. Since each scholarship is different, the only way to find the one for you is to surf the net and start exploring.

Resources to Help with Your Scholarship Search:

FastWeb – database of private-sector scholarships, grants, and loans
Office of Student Financial Assistance – information on financial aid assistance for residents of Massachusetts
U.S. Department of Education – U.S. D.O.E. information about grants, work-study, and tax credits for education – aid estimator and scholarship search
College Board – scholarship search and financial planning resource
United Negro College Fund – financial aid from the United Negro College Fund

Note: Please be very cautious of any site that asks you for a fee and offers to find you money or a “guarantee” of funding. These are most often scams as no one can control who applies for each scholarship and who is selected for these awards. There are many free resources available!