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Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC)

What is the difference between the Hiram G. Andrews Center and the Commonwealth Technical Institute?

The Hiram G. Andrews Center is a comprehensive facility offering pre-employment transition services, rehabilitative, educational, vocational, life management, and counseling services, resulting in employment and independence for persons with disabilities. The Commonwealth Technical Institute is a postsecondary trade and technical school licensed by the department of education and accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), located within the Hiram G. Andrews Center (CTI@HGAC). The Commonwealth Technical Institute provides training to students, regardless of whether or not they are a person who happens to have a disability.

Do I have to take an entrance exam to be accepted at CTI@HGAC?

No formal entrance exam is required. Students entering a diploma or degree program must have a high school diploma or GED. Students who have passed the age of compulsory school attendance and can benefit from training received at HGAC may enroll in continuing education.

What are the benefits of taking part in a vocational evaluation prior to a training program?

Students have the opportunity to participate in a two to three week vocational evaluation program at HGAC. During this time, students live on-campus in the dorms and take many tests to determine their strongest skills to aid the potential student to determine the best training program for them. They also have the opportunity to participate in situational work tryouts in the classrooms for training programs of their interest.

Living on the HGAC campus during the evaluation period, too, also gives the student a clear idea of what life at HGAC would be like if they are accepted into training.

If I take part in Vocational Evaluation at HGAC, how long after I'm evaluated do I have to wait before starting classes?

Students are most often admitted to their training program or prevocational training at the start of the next term following an evaluation. If you are referred through OVR, your OVR counselor will review your training options with you so that you can make an informed decision regarding steps to take following your evaluation.

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Can I transfer credits earned at CTI@HGAC to another post-secondary school?

The receiving school decides whether or not to accept credits from CTI@HGAC. Upon request, CTI can provide a transcript and course descriptions to the school of the student’s choice. Many community colleges and four-year colleges accept CTI credits. Each case is individual, based on the receiving school’s policies.

What is the average class size at CTI@HGAC?

Class size is approximately 15 students for lab classes and 20 for lecture classes.

How many students attend the Commonwealth Technical Institute?

Approximately 350 students attend CTI@HGAC, about 50 of these as commuters.

What are the dorm rooms like?

Although single and double occupancy rooms are available, most students will share a dorm room with another student while they are here. HGAC is tobacco free, with designated smoking areas provided outside the building.

All dorm rooms are equipped with cable television and telephone lines. The student is responsible for contacting local service providers and paying the monthly fees, should subscription to these services be desired.

Students are provided secure dormitory areas, only accessible to residents with key card access.

Will I have my own dormitory room?

HGAC has a limited number of private rooms.  Students normally share a dorm room (although you can request a private room.)  unless their counselor or sponsor can justify why a single room is needed. Students with disabilities requiring a private room are given priority if they are under a doctor's orders and the physician supplies a letter stating that he or she needs a single room.

Every room at HGAC, whether single or double, has a bathroom connected to the room.

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Can I have my own computer in my room?

Students are welcome to bring a computer. Free wi-fi service is available throughout the building.

Can I bring my bicycle, television, and refrigerator?

Due to fire regulations, items like refrigerators, hot plates, coffee pots, etc., are not permitted in the dorms. A refrigerator, however, may be approved, if prescribed by a doctor; clearance must be obtained prior to bringing a refrigerator. Students who need to keep medication refrigerated can keep their prescriptions in the Welness Center. Each dorm lounge is equipped with a television and microwave oven available to all students.

Personal televisions and stereos are permitted in dorm rooms. All dorm rooms are equipped with cable TV service. Students can subscribe to Johnstown's cable service provider for a monthly fee. A convenient payment box is located within HGAC.

Students may bring bicycles to HGAC and store them in the Recreation Department, where they can be chained and locked.

Where do I get my meals?

Students residing at HGAC are provided with three meals each day from the cafeteria.  A variety of items are available at meals, which are planned by a registered dietician and prepared by Commonwealth employees and students enrolled in the Culinary Arts curriculum.  

Students requiring special meals due to health concerns will need to provide a physician's order and advanced notice to the counselor prior to admission to HGAC.  The student will need to consult with the clinical dietician to plan their weekly menus. Due to the large number of meals the Food Service Department must provide on a daily basis, it is not possible to accommodate food preferences for reasons other than health. Options other than cafeteria food do exist, however, such as the Center's Courtyard Café snack shop, and the numerous restaurants and fast-food establishments in the area, many of which deliver to HGAC. 

Must I stay there on weekends?

No. Students are free to come and go as they please.  Our students are expected to govern their own conduct and keep their own curfews. HGAC has designated doors which are open at night for students coming in or going out, and security staff and dorm counselors are on duty, too, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to assist students and maintain their safety while at HGAC. Students are strongly encouraged to secure alternate housing during term breaks when residential services are reduced.

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What do I do if I get sick or need medication?

The HGAC Wellness Center is open from 7:15 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. every day.  

Every morning, students can report to "sick call" at the Health Clinic and see a doctor. Registered nurses are on-duty during the hours of operation to assist students who are ill, or make transportation arrangements if a student needs to go to the hospital.

HGAC is within minutes of Conemaugh Health Systems. Transportation for students who do not require an ambulance is available via CamTran or, under certain circumstances, by HGAC staff.

Students have the option of purchasing their required medications through any local pharmacy, or they can choose to have their medications delivered to HGAC every afternoon, Monday through Friday. Most students have found this delivery service extremely helpful since it does not require them to travel to pick up their medications.

What are your holiday periods?

Term and holiday breaks at HGAC occur regularly throughout the year, and all State-recognized holidays (11 in all) are a day off for students as well as employees. There is a minimum one-week break between three terms, each 16 weeks in length.

Term breaks follow this pattern:

  • Spring Break - one week at the end of April
  • Summer Break - one week at the end of August
  • Fall Break - Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the following Monday
  • Winter Break - two weeks over Christmas and New Years

Why do you have classes in the summer?

The Commonwealth Technical Institute at the Hiram G. Andrews Center (CTI@HGAC) holds classes three terms a year for 16 weeks each term, including the summer months. This shortens the length of time required to complete a training program, preparing you for a job sooner than if you took the summer off.

HGAC isn't close to where I live. How do I get back and forth during breaks and holidays?

This is something all prospective students should consider when coming to HGAC. If you do not have transportation, your HGAC counselor will work with you to explore transportation options, such as Greyhound or Amtrak.

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What kind of local transportation is available?

Johnstown is fortunate to have extremely good accessible public transportation. CamTran is Cambria County's public transportation authority. CamTran has been a longtime partner with HGAC to help make public transportation for our students with disabilities easily accessible. All buses that stop at HGAC (which has its own bus stop on premises) are wheelchair accessible. All CamTran drivers participate in programs about disability awareness. All students who are admitted to HGAC are provided training in the use of CamTran transportation.

The CamTran also offers a Reduced Transit Program, which allows students with disabilities to ride their buses at reduced fares during non-peak hours.

HGAC is also only minutes away from the Greyhound bus station and the Amtrak train station. Taxi service is available to Johnstown and surrounding areas. The Cambria County Area Municipal Airport is also conveniently located in the Johnstown area.

Will HGAC help me find a job once I graduate?

Your job search begins at HGAC. Through our Career Guidance Center (CGC), students have the opportunity to explore job opportunities with the assistance of HGAC's CGC staff. A free lifetime resume service is also offered to all CTI @ HGAC graduates. The CGC will help match a student's skills and qualifications to any position openings we receive, as well as any job for which the student applies. HGAC's staff works to involve your referring agency in your placement during the final term of your education.

Who will pay the bill for my training program?

For our students with disabilities who qualify, tuition for his or her training program may be paid by the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. The Veterans Administration also recognizes HGAC as a certified provider of post-secondary education services.  In some instances, you may be required to complete a financial needs assessment to determine if a financial contribution is required by the sponsoring agency.

Students may also self-sponsor and pay the cost of tuition themselves. Payment arrangements are available through the HGAC Business Office. However, payment must be made in full prior to issuing a transcript, diploma or degree.

Completion of financial aid forms for Pell and/or PHEAA, is mandatory for eligible training programs. If you are unsure whether or not you would qualify for tuition assistance, please call our Financial Aid Office at 800-762-4211 ext 0569 or 814-254-0569.

What kind of financial aid can I apply for?

HGAC is approved to award Work Study, Pell, PHEAA and FSEOG grants to students who qualify.

How can I find out more?

You can reach us at HGAC by calling us toll-free at 800-762-4211, locally at 814-255-8200.

Are tours available?

Yes, call 800-762-4211 ext 0582 or 814-254-0582 to arrange for tours, which are offered daily Monday through Friday.

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