Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:
On behalf of the CEO members of Business Roundtable, I am writing to thank you for your leadership on higher education and to express our support for the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S.839).
Introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), the JOBS Act will help drive the success of today’s learners by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in employer-approved, short-term programs that are at least 150 clock hours of instruction over a period of at least eight weeks.
Working adults and students who enroll in these short-term programs to upgrade their skills must pay out of pocket which creates a barrier for many individuals. As a result, they enroll in programs that are longer than necessary to meet the Pell requirements of at least 600 clock hours of instruction.
We know that America’s economic growth is directly linked to the skills of today’s workers, and we are making significant investments to tackle the skills gap. We also know that many of today’s learners are by and large non-traditional students seeking some form of postsecondary credential or retraining. These learners also face different barriers than “traditional” students, and often must balance work and family obligations.
Therefore, it is time for federal financial aid and federal higher education policy to meet learners where they are. By expanding Pell Grant eligibility to help working learners receive the assistance they need to further their careers, the JOBS Act is a step in this direction.
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation
Chair, Education and Workforce Committee, Business Roundtable