Opportunity America Coalition, which CIRT is an active member, joined a panel to highlight the importance of what is commonly referred to as “workforce” Pell Grants to address current business and economic needs. The event was hosted by the U.S. Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, under the topic of “Short-Term Job-Focused College Programs.” As noted during the conversation: “Some of the most innovative and effective career education available today is at community colleges, and programs are often shorter than a semester – just long enough to learn the skills needed to get a job or a better job. Shorter offerings can be particularly appealing to older students and those juggling work, school and family. They’re also popular with employers struggling to fill jobs in a tight labor market.” However, it was pointed out, under current law students enrolled in shorter programs are not eligible for Pell Grants.
The JOBS Act was introduced in the Senate to address this gap, by identifying ways to qualify short, job-focused programs offered on college campuses; so their costs can be covered for the students under the Pell Grant program. The proposed Act would likely be included as a title or portion of the bill reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. [See, CIRT’s story on the JOBS Act for more details].
White House: In further developments, CIRT raised the importance of passing the JOBS Act with senior representatives from the White House, seeking the Administration’s support in not only promoting passage but also the President’s signature once passed.