Bipartisan Group of House Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Expand Federal Financial Aid for Working Students

By Ayobami Olugbemiga, June 26, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Andy Levin (D-MI), and John Katko (R-NY) today introduced H.R. 3497, the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation would extend federal Pell Grants to working students in high-quality, short-term training programs – particularly at community and technical colleges – that lead to in-demand jobs.

recent poll by National Skills Coalition shows that 86 percent of the public supports making federal financial aid available to anyone seeking skills training, even if they’re not pursuing a college degree. This includes 91 percent of Democrats, 90 percent of Independents and 79 percent of Republicans. Support is particularly high with African-American and Hispanic voters (90 percent and 88 percent, respectively) as well as union members (80 percent).

The following is a statement from Katie Brown, Senior Federal Policy Analyst at National Skills Coalition, applauding the introduction of the bill:

This legislation is an important step towards ending the policy bias in our federal financial aid system against working families. As a country, we spend $139 billion on federal student aid each year, but only 14 percent goes to skills training programs. This is completely at odds with the realities of today’s economic landscape, where about 80 percent of jobs require some form of postsecondary education or training.

Working families across the country are looking for opportunities to get ahead. At the same time, businesses are looking to hire skilled workers. Expanding Pell grants to high-quality, short-term training programs allows more people to afford the education and training they need to secure better-paying jobs and grow in their careers.

We applaud Representatives Richmond, Gonzalez, Horsford, Herrera Beutler, Levin, and Katko for their leadership and commitment to expanding opportunities for working students. Now that this legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate, we urge members in both chambers to work together to make it law. It’s good for workers, good for businesses, and good for our economy.

Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Senate version of the legislation in March.