Reporter’s notebook

Grants to states for short-term programs

The U.S. Education Department will make available $127.5 million in coronavirus relief funding to states for short-term postsecondary programs and work-based learning programs.

The funding is part of $307.5 million in discretionary grant funds to help states develop adaptable, innovative learning opportunities for K-12 and postsecondary learners in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

“Current students and displaced workers will be navigating a very different job market and economy once America reopens,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a press release. “This competition is a tremendous opportunity for states to think creatively and strategically about what their workforce needs will be and how to support entrepreneurs and small business in order to get the economic engines in their states firing on all cylinders again.”

The department will divide the funding between two competitions: $180 million for the Rethink K-12 School Models Grant and $127.5 million for the Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grant. The latter is designed to get Americans back to work and help small businesses spur economic growth.

ED estimates that it will award eight to nine grants to states, ranging from $5 million to $20 million. It plans to issue application packages within two weeks. The department’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education is managing the program.

COVID-19 affects high school students’ college plans

Nearly one-third (30 percent) of high school juniors and seniors have had to delay their college start date as a result of COVID-19, and 13 percent have changed what school they plan to attend because of the pandemic, according to a survey by Junior Achievement (JA) and Citizens Bank.

Nearly one in five high school students surveyed (18 percent) said the pandemic has changed their career path. Nine percent reported they decided to attend college as a result of the pandemic, 8 percent said they decided to no longer attend college, and 8 percent decided to participate in online college classes only.

The survey included 1,000 U.S. teens ages 13 to 18 who are not currently attending college.

Bill aims to keep college students eligible for SNAP

Three California Democrats in the House have introduced a bill to ensure college students are not rendered ineligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on the basis of their student status during the pandemic.

Reps. Jimmy Gomez, Josh Harder and Jimmy Panetta last week introduced the Emergency Ensuring Access to SNAP (EATS) Act. The lawmakers noted that under SNAP’s rules, the majority of college students are ineligible for the assistance. The bill, H.R. 6565, would ensure that students otherwise eligible for the program could access SNAP for the duration of the public health emergency.

“People pursuing their college degrees are in an untenable situation during the coronavirus crisis – they can’t work or physically go to school and yet they were completely left out of the stimulus program,” Harder said in a statement. “We have to make sure our neighbors who are in school but now struggling to get by can put food on the table.”

Low-income, first-generation college students have been significantly economically affected by the pandemic, said Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

“For these students, SNAP is an essential support that will not only help them prevent hunger, but also help them to achieve their goals of graduating college and exiting poverty for good,” she said.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.