Community College Leaders Applaud Bipartisan Action on Workforce Pell

Dr. Monty Sullivan, President of Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC), a coalition of community colleges, and President of Louisiana Community and Technical College System, today issued the following statement on behalf of RAMC in support of an amendment that passed on a bipartisan vote to the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.4521) that would allow Pell Grants to be used for short-term postsecondary credential programs:

On behalf of thousands of community colleges and our students, we applaud the House for its bipartisan passage of the Levin/Gonzalez amendment to expand the Pell Grant program to cover short term programs. The passage of this amendment comes while nearly half of the U.S. Senate are cosponsoring the Senate version of this legislation. This overwhelming support in both chambers and both parties provide a great deal of momentum to get this crucial provision included in the final version of the COMPETES Act.

Right this moment, about 36 million Americans have some college but no degree, and more than 50 million working-age adultshave only a high school education or less. That’s north of 90 million adults with the potential to gain the skills for available jobs (and there are plenty of open jobs right now), but who need only an educational boost to make their dreams of higher incomes and better lives come true.

Even with a shorter path to completion and lower price point than other pathways for post-high school learning, the overall cost of credential programs can be prohibitive for many working adults. For parents caring for dependents or paying childcare fees, or for full-time employees who must take time off to learn new skills, the longer it takes to earn a credential, the higher the cost.

The Pell Grant should be part of that solution. Extending the nation’s most popular federal financial aid program to short-term credential programs–those that are less than 600 hours or 15 weeks long—would have an immediate impact. We see Workforce Pell Grants as a tremendous opportunity to help revive post-high school learning enrollment, which has declined significantly as a result of the pandemic, and to help bolster the nation’s shaky post-COVID economic recovery.

Every American, and especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who have had their livelihoods impacted by the pandemic, deserves the opportunity to move forward in their career, to increase their value to the workforce, and to build a better life for their families. Workforce Pell works – and we urge leaders in the House and Senate to swiftly advance this proposal to the president’s desk.

To learn more about the value and benefits of Workforce Pell, click here.