Bucks County Community College is offering free tuition for county residents who have been laid off from their jobs, officials announced yesterday.

Those who want to take courses can earn up to 30 credits in one academic year, saving nearly $3,000 in tuition under a plan approved by the board of trustees yesterday.

To be eligible, the applicant must be a resident of Bucks County and must have been permanently laid off from a full-time position within 12 months before applying for the program, officials said. The applicant can't be receiving financial assistance for education or retraining from his or her former employer or the government. Students will have to pay fees and book and supply costs.

The program will be offered on a "space-available" basis, meaning after those who paid full tuition have registered, officials said.

Spring semester begins Jan. 21. The program will run from this January to January 2010, with students able to complete their courses of study through August 2010.

Applicants must attend a session to verify eligibility. Sessions will be held at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 7; 3 p.m. Jan. 8; and 12:30 p.m. Jan. 13 in the student services center in the Rollins Center, 275 Swamp Rd., Newtown.

- Susan Snyder