NAICU Washington Update

Jobs Bill Action Moves to the Senate

February 10, 2010

Before the holiday break, the House passed a $152 billion Jobs for Main Street bill, which included a $300 million increase for Federal Work Study (FWS), and $23 billion for additional State Fiscal Stabilization Funds for public K-12 and public higher education.  Now the Senate is working on a collection of bills that comprise a jobs package.  The first action on the Senate side is expected immediately following the February Presidents Day break. 

The four parts in the Senate package are broadly defined as tax credits, small business, infrastructure and public service.  NAICU is asking the Senate to include two important items: 1) matching the House's $300 million for FWS, and 2) adding a "maintenance of effort" provision requiring states to protect state student aid funds.

FWS funds provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, the stimulus bill) last year have proven effective in providing jobs for students in college -- to help them not only pay for college, but to stay in college and graduate.  Almost 90 percent of the FWS stimulus funds had been distributed by the end of 2009, underlining the program's efficiency.  

At the same time, the $500 increase in the Pell Grant included in the ARRA last year has resulted in some states cutting state financial aid programs.  The move has undercut the intent of Congress, which enacted the Pell Grant increase to help students with additional funds at a time when families' financial situations were drastically changing.  Clearly, in these difficult economic times, federal funds for student aid should supplement, not supplant, state aid.

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