WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen joined colleagues in reintroducing the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act. This bipartisan legislation would help expand access to more job training programs for students and workers who need additional training, or a leg up in their career, by making high-quality, shorter-term education and training programs eligible for federal Pell Grants. With millions of workers having suffered permanent job loss due to industry disruptions resulting from COVID-19, access to these postsecondary education and training options to reskill and reenter the workforce has never been more important.
“Now more than ever, we need to help Granite Staters get the training they need for good-paying jobs,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan bill expands Pell Grant eligibility to shorter-term education and training programs so that more Americans can afford to enroll in these programs – and this will also help our businesses hire the skilled workers that they need.”
“With millions still unemployed and many suffering permanent job losses, now is the time to invest in our workforce like never before. Our students and workers deserve access to short-term education and training programs without breaking the bank, and opening up eligibility for Pell Grants will increase affordability and access,” said Senator Shaheen. “This legislation helps close the skills gap by helping young workers develop the skills and training needed for good-paying jobs, while also ensuring qualified workers are available to businesses in need. I’ll keep working in the Senate to find common-sense, bipartisan ways to invest in our workers and their success, especially as we recover from this economic crisis.”
Under current law, Pell Grants — needs-based grants for low-income and working students — can only be applied toward programs that are over 600 clock hours or at least 15 weeks in length, even though many quality job training programs are shorter term. The bipartisan JOBS Act would amend the Higher Education Act to expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality job training programs that are at least 8 weeks in length and lead to industry-recognized credentials and certificates.
Senator Hassan has led efforts in the Senate to expand access to workforce development programs. She recently joined her colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Innovation Zone Act in order to better support programs that help students to succeed academically and professionally. Earlier this year, the Senator also led her colleagues in reintroducing the bipartisan Gateway to Careers Act, which would support career pathways strategies that combine work, education, and support services to help individuals earn recognized postsecondary credentials. Former President Trump also signed into law the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act, which included critical priorities for New Hampshire that Senator Hassan fought for, including authorizing additional funding for states to implement high-quality career and technical education programs.
Additionally, the year-end government funding and COVID-19 relief bill, which Senators Hassan and Shaheen helped negotiate, included relief for K-12 and higher education institutions and increased maximum Pell Grant awards to $6,495.
Shaheen has been a fierce advocate for students, investing in quality education to prepare them for the 21st century economy and ensuring they don’t fall behind during the pandemic. Shaheen has secured grants and funding to invest in the capability and capacity of schools to provide distance learning services to students. She also reintroduced her bill, the Emergency Support for STEM Act, to provide $200 million for emergency grants to support hands-on learning opportunities in STEM education during the pandemic -- including via remote learning and after-school activities. Shaheen also authored a bipartisan bill that was signed into law in 2019, the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act, which reaffirms American commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.