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Heritage Action Supports Sen. Mike Braun’s and Rep. Jim Banks’ Pell Grant Flexibility Act

Apr 29, 2019

In April, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) introduced the Pell Grant Flexibility Act (S.1072, H.R. 2161). This legislation would modify the Pell Grant program to allow funds to be used for short term skills-based programs such as career and technical training. As of now, low-income college students may only use Pell Grant funds for federally accredited programs that lead to traditional four-year college degrees despite the fact that these types of college degrees do not always provide graduates with the skills they need to transition into the workforce.

The Pell Grant Flexibility Act would give low-income students the opportunity to use their Pell Grant funds to take skills-based courses that would more effectively prepare them to enter and advance into the workforce within a specific occupation or occupational cluster.

According to Mary Clare Amselem, Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation:

In today’s higher education environment, students badly need a direct path from education to work. Vocational and skills-based education options provide students with marketable skills that greatly benefit our economy. Pell Grant flexibility would help students pursue options that work best for them. This policy will help diversify higher education opportunities and offer an alternative to the lengthy and expensive four-year bachelor’s degree. In today’s higher education environment, students badly need a direct path from education to work. Vocational and skills-based education options provide students with marketable skills that greatly benefit our economy. Pell Grant flexibility would help students pursue options that work best for them. This policy will help diversify higher education opportunities and offer an alternative to the lengthy and expensive four-year bachelor’s degree.

According to Sen. Braun:

As a business owner who has hired hundreds in my career, I know first-hand there is a workforce skills gap. This legislation will address that crisis, improve job placement, and reduce student debt by prioritizing skills-based programs.

Rep. Banks added:

There are currently 100,000 jobs in Indiana that are unfilled due to a worker shortage in technical and skilled fields. We need to do more to equip students with the knowledge and training they need to find a job after graduation, and that begins with restructuring federal grant money to prioritize highly demanded skills. Pell Grant flexibility is a common-sense step in the right direction, and is a top priority of our Governor, Eric Holcomb.

The majority of Republican voters in America agree that our higher education system needs to be reformed in ways that help more Americans find jobs. According to recent polling data, 74 percent of Republican voters said a four-year liberal arts degree is not worth the cost and 70 percent agreed that American workers need more skills training to compete in the economy. Higher education institutions are failing to prepare the next generation of students to enter the workforce.

Heritage Action supports Sen. Braun’s and Rep. Banks’ legislation. By allowing Pell Grant funds to be used for skills-based courses, this legislation offers more students an alternative path to the four-year bachelor’s degree and bolsters competition through innovative skills-based education models. It would increase job opportunities, reduce student loan debt, and address the widening gap in workforce skills in America.

***Heritage Action supports this legislation and encourages Representatives and Senators to support it***