WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Fred Keller (R- PA) is sponsoring an education bill that would make it easier for students in short-term occupational programs to qualify for financial aid. Keller said this legislation is needed to help fill jobs with that are in high demand.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, occupational therapy assistants, solar PV installers and physical therapy assistants make up some of the fastest growing careers. They don’t require a traditional four-year university education but rather a two-year associates degree, trade school , or on-the job training. Republican Congressman Fred Keller is hoping to make it easier for people to pursue these kinds of careers.
“I just have a passion for people who want to learn and be able to as you can in America succeed and have that economic independence and that upward mobility and you just need that opportunity,” said Keller. “And this is a way to get that individuals who are looking for a career that opportunity.”
He’s co-sponsoring the ‘CHOICE Act’ alongside North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn (R- NC) which would allow students in short-term occupational programs to qualify for federal Pell Grants, which are typically only given to low-income undergrad students. Under the CHOICE Act, people could get federal Pell Grants for vocational, skills-based, on the job and other workforce readiness programs.
“Pell Grants are based upon a certain amount of hours that you spend on instruction, we maybe need to look at a shorter time frame to do better competencies on how long it takes for a person to get the necessary skills for a certain job or trade and lets look at using Pell Grants for those things rather than it has to be used for so many hours of instruction because its different no matter your profession or your trade you want to gain those skills for it might be different,” said Keller.
Keller believes expanding Pell Grant eligibility will pave the way for a stronger workforce.
“It’s all about making sure our kids have opportunities and have a better chance for success and have a better life than we did,” said Keller.