CHIPS & Science Act: What’s In It For Community Colleges, and What Items Were Left Out
After more than a year of bicameral interest in boosting U.S. global competitiveness in manufacturing, science, and trade - and with competing proposals championed by each chamber - Congress has approved a bipartisan bill to boost the domestic manufacturing of computer chips and incentivize greater investments in research and development of science-related careers. The CHIPS and Science Act passed the Senate last month with a 64-33 vote on July 27 and was followed by a 243-187 vote in the House of Representatives on July 28. The bill officially became law on August 9, 2022, when President Biden held a signing ceremony on the White House lawn.
The legislation is a result of a conference committee process that instructed lawmakers to reconcile differences between the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA),and the House’s America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022.
The final product, though, was a much-narrower-in-scope legislation that left out many community college priorities originally included in one or both of the original bills. Among the many items left out was a “Job Training Federal Pell Grants” provision in the America COMPETES proposal that would have extended Pell Grant eligibility to workforce programs as short as 150 clock hours or eight weeks in length. This continues to be a top policy priority for community colleges.
The COMPETES Act also included the College Transparency Act, which requires colleges to collect student data while maintaining privacy protections for individual students and submit it to the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, it included two new grants directed at “construction and manufacturing-oriented colleges” for student outreach and advising. Finally, the reauthorizations for the National Apprenticeship Act reauthorization and Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grants were also part of COMPETES. All of these provisions were also left out of the final compromise.
Another proposal that was included in both USICA and COMPETES but was left out of CHIPS and Science was a Telecommunications Workforce Training Grant program.
Most of these items were left out due to a combination of policy disagreements, the political nature of negotiations, and timing – with the window to reach consensus closing as midterm elections neared. The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 is not all bad news for community colleges though. The scope of the bill is limited to semiconductor manufacturing and science, but it acknowledges the critical need to develop the workforce in this industry and the role community colleges can play in these efforts, be it in skill-specific training, STEM-related education, or serving as hubs where federal agencies and private employers can reach students historically underrepresented in STEM-related careers.
Notably, the CHIPS and Science Act included $11 billion for semiconductor manufacturing workforce development, $200 million for a CHIPS for America Workforce and Education Fund housed under the National Science Foundation (NSF) to promote growth of the semiconductor workforce, and $81 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support critical infrastructure workforce research and training.
Another major provision included in the law was an update to the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program under the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a network of centers for science and technical education and supports research and development to improve STEM education at community colleges. These updates included new grant awards to advance research on effective STEM education practices at community colleges, provide students with hands-on training and research experiences, and support career and technical education in STEM fields. The law also establishes a pilot program to develop and scale up successful models for providing students with hands-on course-based research experiences.
Outside of ATE, the law also establishes several workforce-related research and grant programs aimed at leveraging community colleges to address manufacturing workforce needs, increase the number of people prepared for STEM-related careers, and meet the manufacturing and production goals envisioned with this law.
Finally, one aspect that is recurring throughout the various sections of the bill is the need to broaden the participation of underrepresented communities in technical, microelectronic, and other STEM-related careers. The law includes community colleges as key institutions to engage in outreach efforts.
If you’re interested in learning more about the law and the various sections that could benefit community colleges and their students, we have prepared a section by section of relevant provisions, which can be found in our Fact Sheets and Summaries page.
José Miranda is the Director of Government Relations at ACCT