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Short-term Pell bill advances out of House education committee

Short-term Pell bill advances out of House education committee

Higher Ed Dive

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
December 12, 2023
Dive Brief:
  • The House Committee on Education and the Workforce advanced a highly watched bill Tuesday that would allow students to use federal Pell Grants on short-term programs.
  • The legislative proposal, which passed 37-8, would create Workforce Pell Grants that students could apply to programs as short as eight weeks, starting in the 2025-26 academic year. However, some Democrats fear that for-profit programs would try to set up shoddy credentials that would skirt consumer protections in the bill.
  • State and federal regulators, as well as accreditors, would determine which programs would qualify for the new grant. Democrats are also objecting to a funding provision that would block private colleges with large endowments from offering federal student loans.
Dive Insight:
Short-term Pell has emerged as a rare idea with bipartisan support in recent years, though Democrats and Republicans have developed divergent legislative proposals around it.
The new bill, however, is the product of negotiations between Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican who chairs the House education committee, and Rep. Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat and the committee’s ranking member. Foxx and Scott both sponsor the legislation.
Higher ed pundits consider it to be one of lawmakers’ best shots to rework the Pell system in a heavily divided Congress.
Foxx and Scott lawmakers talked up the bill during a Tuesday session of the committee. Scott reinforced that it contained guardrails to prevent students from getting trapped paying for a second-rate credential.
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