Yesterday, U.S. Senator Mike Braun and Congressman Jim Banks introduced the Pell Flexibility Act of 2019 to reduce student debt and address the crisis of the workforce skills gap.
The goal of the grant is to improve job placement, reduce the crushing burden of student loan debt, and address the crisis of the workforce skills gap, higher education must adapt to meet the needs of employers. Federal grants prioritizing skills-based programs is a critical step in that direction. Under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, institutions of higher education are eligible to participate in federal student aid programs—the foundational program of this system being the federal Pell Grant.  Under the Pilot program created by the Pell Flexibility Act, Title IV-eligible institutions with programs between 320-600 hours in length would apply to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to participation in the program, with a limit of eight programs at each institution eligible to participate. Institutions must demonstrate that their program(s) addresses the skills gap by using evaluations from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Office of Employment Projections; local and regional workforce needs assessments created under recent updates to Title V of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act; Workforce Investment Boards; or other state agencies. The program will be monitored and evaluated by ED and a report will be issued to relevant Congressional committees using both qualitative and quantities evidence. The report must include how these programs meet workforce needs, retention rates, job placement rates in relevant fields, and other pertinent information.