February 9, 2023
The first hearing of the new House Committee on Education and the Workforce featured talk about the return on investment of a college education, expanding the Pell Grant to cover short-term programs and the need to provide more access to postsecondary programs.
Expanding Pell Grants to cover short-term programs is a top priority for North Carolina representative Virginia Foxx and her House Committee on Education and Workforce.
The possible Pell Grant expansion was one of the main topics of discussion at the committee’s first full hearing Wednesday. Foxx, the Republican who chairs the committee, is sponsoring a bill to expand the Pell Grant, and similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate. The grants are currently restricted to programs that run at least 15 weeks long, but the proposed bills would lower that threshold to at least eight weeks.
“The single most important step Congress can take in helping address our nation’s skill shortage is to immediately authorize the use of Pell Grants for workforce programs,” Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, said at the hearing. “Students need the shortest and least expensive pathways to employment with opportunities for advancement throughout their lives. “
Skeptics worry, however, that short-term Pell could open the program to supporting programs that are low quality.
Sullivan was one of several witnesses to testify Wednesday at the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s first full hearing of the new Congress, titled “American Education in Crisis,” which spotlighted the different issues the committee will likely tackle this year, from charter schools and parental involvement in children’s education to student debt and measuring the value of postsecondary programs.