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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Sens. Baldwin and Franken Promote Aid for Short-term Postsecondary CTE

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October 15, 2013

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Sens. Baldwin and Franken Promote Aid for Short-term Postsecondary CTE 

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing yesterday on simplifying federal student aid through the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Testifying before the committee today were: 

  • Dr. Bridget Terry Long, Academic Dean and Xander Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Ms. Kim Cook, Executive Director, National College Access Network
  • Dr. Judith Scott-Clayton, Assistant Professor of Economics and Education, Columbia University
  • Ms. Kristin Conklin, Founding Partner, HCM Strategists

While the majority of the hearing focused on financial aid application simplification and all the different types of student loans and grants offered for different populations, Sen. Baldwin (D-WI) highlighted the importance of easing access to financial aid for “non-traditional” students, those that are older, part-time or residing off campus, and ensuring access is allowed for those students enrolled in short-term CTE postsecondary credentialing programs.

Specifically, Baldwin highlighted that students in her state of Wisconsin who are enrolled in short-term welding programs and who may only be taking a few credit hours at a time due to outside influences, such as child care, transportation or work, are unable to receive aid. At the same time, demand for trained welders by local employers continues to grow. 

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) also spoke about the role short-term CTE postsecondary programs can play in transforming the financial aid system by helping students reduce their need for loans. Through his work with the community and technical college system in Minnesota, Franken has seen how students completing short-term credentials for in-demand career fields are quickly hired by companies.  Those companies then send workers back to school for continuing education to earn associate and bachelor’s degrees. These working students earn money during their studies and sometimes also have their tuition covered by their employer. 

Prior to the hearing, ACTE submitted comments to the Committee regarding, among other items, the inclusion of non-traditional students and those enrolled in short-term training programs and at non-degree granting institutions as equals to those students in traditional two- and four-year programs in the financial aid system. 

Video of the hearing is available on the Committee website. Sen. Baldwin’s remarks begin at the 01:18:34 mark. Sen. Franken’s remarks begin at the 01:45:05 mark.

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