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University and tech leaders asked Congress to expand access to short-term Pell Grants to all online education programs, according to a letter sent to congressional leadership Monday.

The current version of the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2022 that has been passed by the House includes a proposal that would exclude short-term online training or part-time programs from being eligible for Pell Grants.

The 14 organizations, including the Skills First Coalition, IBM and multiple university leaders, who signed the letter argue that being excluded from access to short-term Pell would largely rule out adult students who see online learning as a more accessible option for continuing education or skill expansion.

“We are seeing a growing demand for online, high-quality skills training and certification programs that offer the flexibility and relevance for employees and learning outcomes valued by employers who are doing the hiring. However, the language excluding online programs is a penalty, not a protection, for those learners for whom online programs are their only access point to education and training,” said the letter.

Short-term Pell is a provision in the House-passed COMPETES Act that extends federal financial aid to programs under eight weeks in length. However, this current version of the legislation excludes online and for-profit programs from the new iteration of Pell.