Problem Solvers Caucus Endorses JOBS Act to Expand Pell Grant Eligibility for Students

October 23, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, the Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed H.R. 3497, the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, to expand Pell Grant eligibility for qualifying short-term training programs, helping more Americans gain access to industry-recognized credentials. This bill is the companion to legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA), with Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Andy Levin (D-MI), John Katko (R-NY), and Steven Horsford (D-NV). Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) co-led the endorsement effort within the Problem Solvers Caucus.

In backing this initiative, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY), have come together to support students from all walks of life who, with passage of this bill, will have access to the training and skills needed to tap into the existing job market and succeed in the twenty-first century economy. The Caucus urges a floor vote on this legislation in the near future.

While there are currently several resources to help individuals achieve traditional college degrees, the need for aid to attend shorter-term training programs has gone largely unfulfilled. As a result, those wishing to pursue a post-secondary education pathway other than a traditional degree are often overlooked and industries across the country are facing growing skills gaps. The JOBS Act fixes this problem by extending Pell Grant eligibility to qualified programs that are between 150 and 600 clock hours and at least eight weeks in length. This means more qualified candidates and better fits for jobs available in areas where employers have difficulty filling open positions. In fact, a recent NFIB survey found that 54% of small business owners have reported few or no qualified applicants for their openings.

The 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans have agreed that it is time to add additional flexibility to allow students applying for CTE and short-term education programs to qualify for Pell Grants. H.R. 3497 is supported by AGC, ABC, National Association of Home Builders, ACTE, and the National Skills Coalition.  Additionally, the President’s FY20 budget supported expanding Pell Grants, “to students enrolled in high-quality short-term programs that lead to a credential, certification, or license in a high-demand field.”

"We need to be creating good-paying jobs, and spurring growth and innovation in North Jersey and around the country. This legislation will ensure that hard-working Americans, especially in my state, are able to access the vocational and short-term training programs they need. With the Problem Solvers' endorsement of the JOBS Act, we're continuing to break through the gridlock to back bipartisan legislation that moves our nation forward," said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer. 

“Nationwide, there are currently more job openings than there are Americans who are looking for work. With employers clamoring for more qualified workers, we should be promoting the education required to fill these good paying jobs,” Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Tom Reed said. “The JOBS Act is critical for hard working people we care about in New York who don’t want to pursue a traditional degree, but want the opportunity to advance their careers and achieve a brighter future. I am proud the Problem Solvers Caucus is getting behind this common-sense bill.”

“In Ohio alone, over 152,000 jobs remain available – 80,700 of which are paying over $50,000. With employers clamoring for more qualified employees, these jobs are untapped opportunities for our workers, our students and our children,” said Congressman Anthony Gonzalez. “The JOBS Act is critical to providing Northeast Ohioans who don’t want to pursue a traditional degree an opportunity to advance their careers and achieve a better future.”

“In Central Virginia, we have strong workforce training programs for occupations ranging from commercial truck drivers to database specialists. But many students in our region’s short-term training programs are ineligible to apply for Pell Grants, which could help them afford the training they need to advance toward their long-term career goals,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. “Earlier this month during my education tour, I heard directly from instructors and administrators at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College about the need to expand this grant eligibility. That’s why I’m proud to co-lead the endorsement of the JOBS Act in the Problem Solvers Caucus—and I look forward to fighting for the financial security of the next generation of Central Virginia workers and their families.”

Congressman John Katko said, “High-skill job opportunities in fields such as nursing and information technology continue to expand throughout Central New York and nationwide. Short-term training programs offered through community colleges are essential in providing the necessary skills workers need to succeed at these in-demand careers. I am proud to support this legislation that expands federal Pell Grant eligibility for short-term training programs and ensures more Americans have access to high-skill, high-wage employment opportunities.”

“My focus has always been on making sure Southwest Washington residents can get good-paying jobs, which means providing a path for workers to pursue better opportunities. One way to empower folks to earn more is to ensure they have the skills and training necessary to compete for available jobs. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to expand Pell Grant eligibility to cover high-quality, short-term job training programs so more folks can gain upward mobility for themselves and their families,” said Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler.

“As someone who benefited from receiving Pell Grants to complete my education, I know how important this financial boost is. Students seeking to invest in training and credentials that will provide them with an opportunity to earn a good living and build a successful future should have access to this proven federal aid program,” said Congressman Ben McAdams.

“Ensuring job opportunities and security for the people of Bucks and Montgomery Counties has been one of my top priorities in Congress. By providing job training programs, we can make sure that our constituents are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan legislation to make sure that all Americans have these opportunities to support themselves and their families.”

“In today’s dynamic economy, it’s critical that we give students the resources they need to succeed in the workforce,” Congresswoman Elaine Luria said. “Short-term career and technical training programs equip Americans with valuable workplace knowledge and experience as they seek meaningful employment. I am excited to support a bipartisan bill that would open opportunities to many Virginians by making career and technical education more financially accessible.”

“These workforce training programs give individuals the tools and education they need to expand their knowledge, enhance their skillset, and improve their work performance. I’m glad to see the Problem Solvers Caucus endorse this key legislation that aims to help employers meet the need for experienced and qualified candidates to fill open positions,” said Congressman Don Bacon.

Congressman Tom Suozzi said,
“There are over 3,000 companies, with 7,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs on Long Island. Sixty percent of Americans do not graduate from college, the JOBS act is common sense, bipartisan legislation that will allow those people who do not graduate from college access to high skilled, good paying jobs and give them a fair shot at achieving the American dream.”

“The United States faces a significant skilled workforce shortage, which hampers our nation’s ability to remain competitive,” said Congressman Paul Mitchell. “By increasing access to skills training programs that provide well-paying careers, the JOBS Act will enable more Americans to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

“Short-term training programs are a vital tool to help millions of Americans receive the skills necessary to give them a leg up in our hyper-competitive global economy,” said Congressman Dan Lipinski. “The JOBS Act addresses head-on the millions of jobs left unfulfilled in the U.S. because companies are unable to find qualified workers. When 54% of small business owners report few or no qualified applicants for their openings, we must do all we can to increase opportunities for students to take part in training programs that close the gap and prepare them for success. This bill is a win-win for both employers and employees.”

“One of the most common concerns I hear from business owners across Northeast Ohio is that they have jobs available but cannot find qualified workers to fill them,” said Congressman Dave Joyce. “In Ohio alone, over 150,000 jobs remain available, the majority of which pay over $50,000. That’s why I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the JOBS Act, which will help more Americans gain access to good-paying jobs by supporting workforce training programs. We must continue to take the proactive steps necessary to close the skills gap and prepare workers for the job opportunities that the 21st century workforce has to offer them.”

“We’re doing all we can to make sure all students have every opportunity to succeed,” said Congressman Salud Carbajal. “On California’s Central Coast, expanding Pell Grant funding will mean a world of difference for our residents and our economy. The JOBS Act will support careers that lift us up every single day—health professionals who ensure our community is cared for, construction workers who build our infrastructure, automotive technicians, electricians and so many more. I'm proud to pass this bill, and proud of the overwhelming bipartisan support it has received."


The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprising of 48 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY).