A new amendment to the FY 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, introduced by Senator Patty Murray, will give students in proven career pathway programs access to the federal financial aid programs enjoyed by students in traditional higher-ed institutions. Previously, the appropriations bill sought to have such programs cut off from Title IV federal student aid, forcing those who relied on the funding to pay for the programs to drop out.
"This amendment will make sure students in high quality career pathway programs won't be cut off from the federal financial aid they need to continue their education and train for a career," saidSenator Patty Murray. "It doesn't make sense to punish students we know would benefit from post-secondary education and training, and this amendment will make sure we don't. This amendment is good for students working hard to upgrade their skills and get better jobs, and it's good for businesses looking for skilled workers."
Students who are enrolled in post-secondary institutions and in adult education courses simultaneously will still be eligible for the Title IV financial aid program including Pell Grants. The students will be able to receive the funds if they pass any of the three previous "Ability to Benefit" tests. The cost will be offset via savings derived from a clarification in rules governing the non-profit student loan servicers.
The full bill has now been voted on and passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Murray's amendment was greeted with enthusiasm by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, whose Executive Director Charles N. Earl said that up to 20,000 community college students might eventually benefit from the ATB provisions. The ability to get financial aid to fund the studies, will lead to more residents graduating with a post-secondary degrees which could serve a stepping stone to a more secure financial future and give children from lower-income families to take the steps to move themselves into the middle class.
"Community colleges are working with businesses to meet their demand for workers with postsecondary credentials," said J. Noah Brown, President & CEO, Association of Community College Trustees. "Career pathway programs represent a proven strategy for students wishing to attain concurrently basic skills education, while honing their specific job skills for high-demand fields. We commend Senator Patty Murray's leadership and support for maintaining access to Pell Grants for students who depend upon career pathway programs. "