Loebsack, Bustos, Kind Continue Effort to Support Students Relying On Pell Grants For College Education & Training

Written by Theresa Rose on February 25, 2015

Bill Would Give Students More Choices & Spur Entrance into the Workforce
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and Congressman Ron Kind (WI-03) continued their effort to give more flexibility to students receiving Pell Grants by introducing the Access to Education and Training Act to allow Pell Grant recipients to take advantage of the grants year-round. Loebsack authored a provision that created year-round Pell Grants in the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which was signed into law in 2008. However, the year-round Pell Grant was eliminated in 2011. Text of the bill can be found HERE.

“As someone who would not have been able to attend college without the help of student aid, I was proud to author the original year-round Pell legislation that was signed into law in 2008,” said Congressman Dave Loebsack. “After visiting schools across Iowa, I have heard from countless students whose ability to afford college would be significantly improved by the availability of year-round Pell grants. I look forward to working with Representatives Bustos and Kind to reduce barriers to higher education institutions by restoring this important program. This bill would provide Iowa’s students with the necessary training and resources required to be successful in the 21st century global economy.”

“As the mother to three sons, I know firsthand how important a quality and affordable education is to building a middle class life,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “I’m proud to join with Representatives Loebsack and Kind to continue fighting for higher education affordability and accessibility. Our bill would give students more flexibility to get the training they need to join the workforce faster. This would be a win-win-win for our region’s students, our local educational institutions and our local economies.

“Nearly 9 million students depend on Pell Grants to attend and complete college, and many students are past the 18-22 age range so they have competing demands on their schedules,” said Congressman Ron Kind. “This commonsense legislation will restore access to year-round Pell Grants, providing flexibility to many non-traditional students such as those with families or full-time jobs so they can complete their courses and move forward with their careers.”

Under current law, a student who goes to school full-time during the fall and spring semesters would not be eligible to receive Pell Grant awards for summer courses. Many of those who would benefit most from the Access to Education and Training Act are non-traditional students who want to complete their courses faster so they can get back into the workforce.

“Many community college students, especially those in specialized training programs, attend school year-round. Restoring the year-round Pell Program would help these students complete the necessary training to succeed in the workforce,” said Don Doucette, Chancellor of Eastern Iowa Community Colleges in Davenport.

Bustos, Loebsack and Kind, who together represent 18 community colleges across their three neighboring states, introduced this bill in response to the continued demand for increased Pell Grant flexibility from local students and community colleges that offer year-round programs.