Original Murray amendment helps close the skills gap, provides financial aid for students in proven career pathway programs

Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded President Obama for including in his 2015 budget proposal a provision she originally authored to restore Pell Grants to adult students without a high school diploma who are enrolled in adult and post-secondary education as part of a career pathway program.  This provision increases opportunity for low-income adults seeking new skills and job re-training, and helps reduce the “skills gap” between employers who need trained employees and workers without the skills to fill those positions.

“Strong, proven career pathway programs that combine adult and post-secondary education with effective job training can make all the difference for men and women seeking new skills, new jobs, and new opportunities to succeed in this country,” said Senator Murray.  “Unfortunately, many adults who want to attend these programs simply can’t afford it, so just as we invest in graduating high school students hoping to attend college, this funding is an investment in adults who want to attain new skills for good-paying jobs that can support a family.”

Historically, Pell Grants have been available to adults enrolled in career pathway programs, but that federal funding was cut in 2012, prompting Senator Murray to first introduce legislation to reinstate it.  Recent studies show that students in these programs outperform similar students in earning college credits and certificates, and in persisting to program completion and good jobs.  To qualify for aid, adults students must demonstrate their “ability to benefit” from postsecondary education.

The President’s budget proposal released this week is written within the framework of last year’s two-year bipartisan budget agreement that Senator Murray, as Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, reached with Representative Paul Ryan, Chair of the U.S. House Budget Committee.