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DeVos Questioned on Short-Term Pell Grants

March 27, 2019
 
 

House Democrats on Tuesday questioned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on a Trump administration proposal to open the Pell Grant program to "high-quality" short-term programs.

DeVos appeared before the House appropriations subcommittee that authorizes education spending for a hearing on the administration's proposed fiscal year 2020 budget.

Representative Bonnie Watson-Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat, said a traditional four-year college degree should not be the only path to a college education.

"What are you going to have in place to ensure something like a Trump University is not someone, not an organization that benefits from this new approach?" she asked.

DeVos said the administration would work with Congress to make sure "appropriate boundaries or guardrails are put in place" for short-term Pell.

Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, a California Democrat, said she also agreed with the idea of short-term Pell, if not the administration's approach. She questioned how the administration would finance additional demands on the Pell Grant program.

DeVos argued many students may pursue a short-term certificate "in lieu of a longer-term program, which in fact could be less costly to students and, ultimately, the taxpayer."

Bipartisan Senate legislation would expand Pell Grants to more short-term programs. But a recent paper from House Democrats on principles for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act cautioned against allowing access for programs that produce low wages for graduates.

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