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Sen. Marshall cosponsors legislation to expand Pell Grant eligibility

(WDBJ)
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 2:19 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Senator Roger Marshall has cosponsored legislation to expand eligibility for federal Pell Grants.

Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) says he supports the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students Act. He said the legislation would make high-quality, shorter-term educational training programs eligible for Pell Grants. He said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-demand skills have shifted and expanding Pell Grant eligibility will help workers afford job training and credentials that are needed to fill those jobs. At the end of 2020, he said over 10 million Americans were unemployed and 3.7 million suffered permanent job loss. He said these workers will need access to postsecondary education and training to reskill and reenter the workforce.

“Career and technical education offers students a pathway to a high-skilled, high-wage job in two years or less,” said Senator Marshall. “Before the pandemic, we had a number of technical jobs open across Kansas, in fields ranging from construction to aerospace manufacturing. That gap has only worsened as a result of COVID-19. The JOBS Act helps students and employees who have been hit hard by the pandemic to gain the skills needed to enter or re-enter the workforce and get our economy back on track.”

Sen. Marshall said under current law, Pell Grants can only be applied toward programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks long, even though many job training programs are shorter term. He said the JOBS Act would amend the Higher Education Act to expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality job training programs that are at least eight weeks long and lead to industry-recognized credentials and certification.

According to Sen. Marshall, the JOBS Act would amend the Higher Education Act in the following ways:

  • Expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in rigorous and high-quality short-term skills and job training programs that lead to industry-based credentials and ultimately employment in high-wage, high-skill industry sectors or careers.
  • Ensuring that students who receive Pell Grants are earning high-quality postsecondary credentials by requiring that the credentials:
    • Meet the standards under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), such as meaningful career counseling and aligning programs to in-demand career pathways or registered apprenticeship programs
    • Align with the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act’s program of study definition
    • Are recognized by employers, industry, or sector partnerships
    • Align with the skill needs of industries in the state or local economy
    • Are approved by the state workforce board in addition to the U.S. Department of Education
  • Defining eligible job training programs as those providing career and technical education instruction at an institution of higher education, such as a community or technical college that provides:
    • At least 150 clock hours of instruction time over a period of at least 8 weeks
    • Training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce and industry partnerships
    • Institutional credit articulation so students can continue to pursue further education in their careers
    • Students with licenses, certifications, or credentials that meet the hiring requirements of multiple employers in the field for which the job training is offered
  • Creating an inter-agency data-sharing agreement between the Department of Labor and Department of Education to share WIOA performance outcomes metrics such as median earnings and completion

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