Dear AACS Members,
Congress is currently considering S. 1260, the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, which is a bill focused on increasing America’s competitiveness with China, and for other purposes. Tucked into this bill is an amendment recently offered by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH): S.Amdt. 2090, the “Kaine-Portman Amendment,” that proposes to expand the Federal Pell Grant program to include short-term workforce training programs from a minimum of 150 hours (8 weeks) up to 600 hours (15 weeks).
The expansion of Pell Grant eligibility to include short-term training programs will increase the availability of additional educational opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged students. However, as now drafted, the amendment excludes proprietary institutions so that students attending AACS member schools would not be able to receive Pell for short-term programs.
AACS’s position is that as short-term programs continue to increase in popularity, Congress should take proactive measures to reform the Higher Education Act and ensure that all students are provided with the opportunity to earn in-demand short-term credentials, including low income students who choose short-term programs at our schools.
In addition, the amendment as currently drafted would terminate the availability of the Direct Loan program for short-term programs and thereby disadvantage low-income and middle-income students relying on loans for short-term programs, including those offered by cosmetology schools.
As an alternative measure to ensure high quality programs, we recommend that Congress include proprietary schools in the amendment while also retaining current student outcome requirements that exist in the Direct Loan program for short term programs. Specifically, we recommend that Congress require that institutions demonstrate that at least 70 percent of students graduate and at least 70 percent are placed in order to qualify for short-term Pell Grants. We strongly believe that all institutions of higher education should satisfy the required outcome/graduation metrics that currently exist for short-term Direct Loan eligibility, and should be an important accountability component of institutional participation in a short-term federal Pell Grant program.
We ask that each AACS member engage with their Senators and House Member TODAY to oppose the amendment unless these changes are made that include our schools and set forth minimum outcomes for ALL institutions.
We have made it very easy for you to engage. Please click here to send a message (already included in template form) to your House and Senate Members TODAY!
Thank you as always for your willingness to fight for our students and schools, and the employers who rely on them!
AACS Government Relations Committee