Senate adds short-term Pell expansion to Innovation and Competition Act

Higher Ed Dive 

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
June 2, 2021
Dive Brief:
  • Lawmakers are once again trying to expand the federal Pell Grant to job training programs of a shorter duration than are currently allowed.
  • The proposal is being added to Senate legislation that means to boost the country’s research presence and combat foreign influence, Politico reported Monday. It would allow students in career training programs of eight weeks or more to be eligible for the grants. The cap is currently 15 weeks.
  • Officials have moved several times to make Pell Grants less restrictive. But critics of the idea fear the aid will be used for low-quality programs.
Dive Insight:
Lawmakers on several occasions have drafted bills to make programs shorter than 15 weeks eligible for Pell Grants, arguing that doing so would help students pay for training in high-demand fields.
The most recent proposal is an amendment to the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act and is similar to the bipartisan JOBS Act, spearheaded by Sens. Tim Kaine and Rob Portman, a Democrat and Republican, respectively. The two senators also put forth the new amendment.