Updates to State and Federal Aid
Expanding Pell eligibility to short-term programs and reinstating Second Chance Pell remain priorities for ACCT.
At part of ACCT’s top 2019 Community College Federal Legislative Priority to strengthen Pell grants, one of ACCT’s priorities was to expand Pell eligibility to short-term programs. Currently, programs have to be at least 600 clock hours or 15 weeks in length in order for an enrolled student to receive a Pell grant. The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, reintroduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would lower those benchmarks for Pell eligibility to 150 clock hours or 8 weeks in length. The bill would exclude proprietary colleges from eligibility. Students who have a baccalaureate degree are currently excluded from Pell eligibility; however. the JOBS act would extend eligibility to these students in short-term training programs.
Another 2019 federal legislative priority for community colleges is to extend Pell eligibility to incarcerated individuals, commonly referred to as Second Chance Pell. The Department of Education is testing the program through experimental sites run by community colleges at prisons around the country on an extended temporary basis. Prior to the 1994 ban, prisoners were allowed to use Pell grants, and recent research has reinvigorated bipartisan support to overturn the ban.
The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) recently released their annual State Higher Education Finance Report. This year’s report is noteworthy because 10 years have passed since the start of the great recession, lending an opportunity to reflect upon a decade of progress. According to the report, state funding for higher education institutions has increased over the past five years, with leveling off starting this past year. State-by-state data included in the report details increased funding for higher education and student financial aid during a time of economic upturn.
ACCT and our constituents believe that financially qualifying students who participate in short-term programs are as deserving of access to Pell grants as any other students who attend community colleges. We strongly encourage community college trustees, CEOs, students and other advocates to contact federally elected officials with a request for them to co-sponsor the JOBS Act. It is worth mentioning the programs on your campus that would benefit from short-term Pell, and the outcomes of those programs.