As you likely know, the House of Representatives recently passed the COMPETES Act, H.R. 4521. Section 90305 of that bill contains an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), that eliminates the existing short-term student loan program and replaces it with a new short-term Pell Grant program for students participating in workforce training programs. The language used in the House-passed bill excludes all students attending proprietary schools, as well as schools that have converted from proprietary to not-for-profit status in the past three years, from eligibility for the new program.
The House will now proceed to reconcile the COMPETES Act with S. 1260, the US Innovation and Competition Act, which passed the Senate last June. As you may recall, the Senate-passed bill did not include the new workforce training program. While the respective committee leaders wanted to add the workforce training program—including the problematic prohibition on proprietary school students from participating contained in the House-passed bill—to the Senate measure, they could not obtain unanimous consent to do so.
WHAT YOU CAN DO.
In other words, lawmakers in both chambers, and in both parties, have endorsed a “solution” that would shut out the for-profit sector from participating in this new workforce program. The sector may benefit if advocates contact lawmakers in both chambers, to explain to them the harm this prohibition would cause, and the value that for-profit programs add to students and the local economies where for-profit schools operate.
To that end, a templated letter regarding the COMPETES Act language that you can use to help us with our outreach is provided at the link below. You can use this letter as a template to contact your Senator and Representatives, asking them 1) to support the program created in Section 90305 of the COMPETES Act, and 2) demand language that allows students attending proprietary institutions to participate. Rep. Keller has introduced a bill—H.R. 5777, the CHOICE Act—that would allow for-profit institutions and students to participate in this important new program by expanding the definition of an eligible institution to include proprietary institutions of higher education established under Section 102(b) of the HEA.
Consider contacting your elected officials immediately to educate them on your concerns and be prepared to submit a follow up letter in a few weeks requesting that they take steps to notify targeted Senators and Representatives of the required changes.
Use the “Download Template” link below to download a Microsoft Word templated letter and to get started.
About the author
Tom Netting, Chief Executive Officer at TEN Government Strategies, is an experienced Public Policy Advisor with a demonstrated history of working in higher education legislative and regulatory affairs. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Negotiation, Analytical Skills, Governmental Affairs, and Government. Strong community and social services professional with a Bachelor of Science focused in Business Administration from Presbyterian College.