Sep 13 2018

Blunt Touts STEM Education, College Affordability, & Workforce Training Wins in Education & Labor Funding Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), today announced that the Labor/HHS conference report includes several new investments in Pell Grants, STEM education, and workforce development programs. The conference report, which reconciles the House and Senate versions of the Labor/HHS funding bill, is now ready for a vote in both chambers, which would then send the bill to the president’s desk.

“This bill focuses resources on programs that support students at every stage in their academic careers, whether it’s a child stepping into a classroom for the first time or a student beginning their freshman year in college,” said Blunt. “As a first generation college graduate, I know firsthand how important it is to prioritize federal resources for programs that promote college access, completion, and affordability. I’ve heard from students, teachers, and administrators across our state about how critical programs like TRIO and Pell Grants are for putting a higher education within reach for more students, and I’m proud to continue strengthening these programs in this bill.”

For a second year, the bill increases the maximum Pell Grant award – to $6,195 for the 2019-2020 school year, an increase of 1.6 percent or $100. This increase builds upon last year’s increase of 3 percent or $175. The bill continues support for year-round Pell Grants, which help students complete post-secondary education programs faster and enter or re-enter the workforce sooner. Blunt successfully led efforts to restore eligibility for year-round Pell Grants in the FY2017 omnibus appropriations bill. Earlier this year, Blunt visited schools across Missouri to hear how year-round Pell Grants make it possible for students to stay on track for graduation and finish with less debt.

Blunt continued, “There are nearly seven million job openings across the nation, but many employers are struggling to find candidates who are qualified for the job. Since March of this year, our economy has had more job openings than jobseekers, making it more important than ever that we have workers with the right education, skills, and training to meet workforce demands. By strengthening workforce development programs, including the Apprenticeship program and Career and Technical Education, we’ll help Americans learn the skills they need to meet the technological demands of the 21st Century economy.”

Following Are Several of the Key Workforce Development and Education Priorities Included in the Labor/HHS bill:

  • $50 million increase for Federal TRIO programs to help low-income and first generation students get into and graduate from college.

  • $70 million increase for Career and Technical Education (CTE) state grants to help states develop, expand, and improve their CTE programs in high schools and post-secondary settings, and create pathways beginning in high school to in-demand jobs and careers.

  • $10 million increase in dedicated, evidence-based STEM education funding and a $70 million increase for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants program, flexible funding that all school districts can use to support STEM education activities.

  • $25 million increase for Adult Education state grants to provide basic education services for adults to prepare them for further education and to be able to pursue career pathways in in-demand fields.  

  • $15 million increase for continued support for the Apprenticeship program, a 78 percent increase since Congress started this initiative in fiscal year 2016.

  • $5 million increase for Veterans Employment and Training for intensive employment services to veterans and eligible spouses, transitioning service members, and disabled veterans. The bill also establishes a new pilot program within the Transition Assistance Program to facilitate veterans’ apprenticeship opportunities.
The bill maintains robust funding for several other programs including Federal Work Study and youth training programs to provide at-risk youth with the opportunity to gain educational and occupations skills, including Job Corps and Youth Build.