Both the U.S. Senate and House Education Committees have started work on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which determines eligibility for some $122 billion a year in federal financial aid for college students – mostly student loans and grants, including Pell Grants. HEA reauthorization will be a sprawling, contentious debate, and workforce education will be only one issue among many. An important bi-partisan proposal in the discussion has been offered by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) – introduced as a stand-alone bill, the JOBS Act, but intended ultimately as an amendment to HEA – that would free-up significant support for short job training programs offered at community colleges.
A bill introduced yesterday by Indiana Republicans Sen. Mike Braun and Rep. Jim Banks purports to serve the same purpose – funding for short community college job training programs. But that bill is considerably narrower than the JOBS Act – it would fund far fewer programs and only on a temporary basis. This could ultimately undermine or erode support for the broader more favorable expanse of the JOBS Act. If you are interested in this legislation, please contact your members of the Senate, especially those on the Senate HELP Committee.
[For a more detailed explanation of the two bills, see attached comparison].