1. Eliminate the bias against working students in need of federal financial aid

In today’s economy, approximately 80 percent of all jobs require some form of education or training, and more than 50 percent of jobs can be classified as “middle-skill”–meaning they require more than a high school diploma but not a four-year degree. Technical and community college leaders urge lawmakers to consider the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 839; H.R. 3497) led by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and Representatives Cedric Richmond (D-LA-02), Andy Levin (D-MI-09), Steven Horsford (D-NV-04), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16), Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA-03) and John Katko (R-NY-24). This legislation would expand Pell grant eligibility to students enrolled in high-quality education and training programs that are at least 150 clock hours of instruction over 8 weeks.

2. Make higher education and workforce outcomes data comprehensive and transparent

Every student deserves access to secure, transparent, and easily accessible data that lets them know exactly what education institutions and training programs will give them the best return on investment. However, as technical and community college leaders note in their letter, existing legal restrictions on the collection of student-level data continue to hinder the accessibility of this important information.

To help provide consumers with better data and relieve institutions of duplicative reporting requirements, community and technical college administrators call for action on the College Transparency Act (S.800; H.R. 1766). The bipartisan bill would establish a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student-level data network administered by the National Center for Education Statistics. Colleges would be able to safely and easily report their data, which would then be available as a decision-making tool for current and prospective students.

3. Strengthen support services for students

Due to the diversity of the student populations they serve, technical and community college leaders recognize the growing importance of support services such as child care, career counseling, and transportation assistance. While states and higher education administrators across the country are working to implement career pathway models that provide nontraditional students with the services they need to succeed in the postsecondary education system, their efforts receive little support at the federal level.

Technical college and community college leaders from 12 college systems across the country sent a letter to Senate HELP Committee and House Education and Labor Committee leadership, calling for the adoption of a job-driven “Community College Compact.”

The Community College Compact represents a set of four postsecondary policy proposals developed by National Skills Coalition, vetted by a range of stakeholders–including academic institutions, employers, community-based organizations and workforce development boards–and supported by voters and business leaders.

Related content: Schools focus on community college pipeline

In the letter, community college leaders urge Congress to adopt four policy solutions to modernize the Higher Education Act.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura

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