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Problem Solvers Caucus Endorses JOBS Act to Expand Pell Grant Eligibility for Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, the Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed H.R. 3497, the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act to expand Pell Grant eligibility for qualifying short-term training programs, helping more Americans gain access to industry-recognized credentials. This bill is the companion to legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

In backing this initiative, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus have come together to support students from all walks of life who, with passage of this bill, will have access to the training and skills needed to tap into the existing job market and succeed in the twenty-first century economy. The Caucus urges a floor vote on this legislation in the near future.

While there are currently several resources to help individuals achieve traditional college degrees, the need for aid to attend shorter-term training programs has gone largely unfulfilled. As a result, those wishing to pursue a post-secondary education pathway other than a traditional degree are often overlooked and industries across the country are facing growing skills gaps. The JOBS Act fixes this problem by extending Pell Grant eligibility to qualified programs that are between 150 and 600 clock hours and at least eight weeks in length. This means more qualified candidates and better fits for jobs available in areas where employers have difficulty filling open positions. In fact, a recent NFIB survey found that 54% of small business owners have reported few or no qualified applicants for their openings.

The 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans have agreed that it is time to add additional flexibility to allow students applying for CTE and short-term education programs to qualify for Pell Grants. H.R. 3497 is supported by AGC, ABC, National Association of Home Builders, ACTE, and the National Skills Coalition.  Additionally, the President’s FY20 budget supported expanding Pell Grants, “to students enrolled in high-quality short-term programs that lead to a credential, certification, or license in a high-demand field.”

“Short-term training programs are a vital tool to help millions of Americans receive the skills necessary to give them a leg up in our hyper-competitive global economy,” said Congressman Dan Lipinski. “The JOBS Act addresses head-on the millions of jobs left unfulfilled in the U.S. because companies are unable to find qualified workers. When 54% of small business owners report few or no qualified applicants for their openings, we must do all we can to increase opportunities for students to take part in training programs that close the gap and prepare them for success. This bill is a win-win for both employers and employees.”