On March 23, Dr. Yolanda Wilson, President of the College of Southern Maryland, testified before a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee to request the extension of Pell Grant eligibility to quality, short-term workforce development programs. During the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Public Witness Day, Wilson explained that Workforce Pell Grants are critical for supporting students in short-term programs.

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As reported by Community College Daily, financial aid eligibility often excludes millions of community college students who are adult learners attending part-time while balancing work and family responsibilities as they seek to attain a credential or licensure that can help them get a promotion or pursue a new job. Pell Grants are a form of need-based federal financial aid awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to help eligible low-income undergraduate students seeking a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree pay for college costs, including tuition, fees, room and board, and other educational expenses.

“Today I direct your attention to additional funding for the Department of Education to support much-needed increases to the Pell Grant maximum and for the Department of Labor to increase the capacity of community colleges to provide skills training and education and further expand registered apprenticeships across business sectors,” Wilson told the subcommittee after being introduced by U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer.

Left, CSM President Dr. Yolanda Wilson testifies before a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee to ask members of Congress to extend Pell Grant eligibility to part-time students and workforce development programs. Right, Wilson displays a note given to her following her testimony from an attendee in the public gallery expressing gratitude for her advocacy. Credit: College of Southern Maryland

In her testimony, Wilson also described the community college student population, stating that the rich diversity of the students cannot be neatly categorized. According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), of the nation’s 10.3 million community college students, 4.1 million are considered non-credit or workforce development students. Of those students in credit-bearing programs, 65 percent, or roughly 4 million students, attend part-time. Many are returning adults, balancing full-time employment, raising and caring for a family, all while taking one or two classes that require studying 6 to 10 hours a week.

Increasing Pell Grant eligibility to workforce programs will be a game-changer for all community college students.

You can read President Wilson written testimony below:

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/EditorEditor-in-Chief

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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