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Congressman Ryan Costello

Representing the 6th District of Pennsylvania

Bipartisan Costello-Duckworth Bill to Ease Burden of Student Loans, Support Job Training and Help Close the Skills Gap

November 9, 2015
Press Release

Legislation would allow more students enrolled in industry-recognized certification programs to receive federal student aid, helping them prepare for careers without accruing massive debts


West Chester, PA –Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced bipartisan legislation aimed at helping ease the burden of student loan debt, closing the “skills gap” and increasing the number of graduates ready for the positions employers are seeking to fill. Their Career and Technical Education (CTE) Opportunity Act, which is cosponsored by Congressional Career & Technical Education Caucus co-chairs Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI), would remove antiquated eligibility restrictions that prevent students enrolled in many CTE programs from receiving federal student aid, providing them greater opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials that are often needed to secure higher-paying jobs without amassing significant student debts.

“The CTE Opportunity Act is a win-win for my constituents in Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District and Americans across the country,” said Congressman Costello. “It offers students the ability to gain essential career training without incurring unnecessary debt and it provides Pennsylvania employers with a well-trained, ready workforce. Closing the skills gap is a priority of mine and I am pleased to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on this effort.”

“Throughout the 8th District, across Illinois and around the country, job-creators and entrepreneurs are struggling to find qualified applicants for unfilled jobs,” said Congresswoman Duckworth. “At the same time, young people are graduating from school with massive student loan debts and having just as much trouble finding good jobs. We have to do more for our students and for our small businesses, and that means bridging the skills gap. By helping curb the rising cost of higher education and encouraging more students to enroll in ‘ready to work’ programs, that’s what the bipartisan Costello-Duckworth CTE Opportunity Act aims to do.”

CTE curriculums are in high demand in part because they provide “ready to work” education that empowers students to learn new skills, train on new technologies and earn or maintain industry credentials, professional certificates and licenses. Despite high demand and educational value, students enrolled in the programs are often deemed ineligible for federal student aid because some programs do not meet outdated thresholds. The CTE Opportunity Act will update those thresholds to make a much larger portion of students enrolled in industry-recognized credential-granting education programs eligible to receive federal financial aid.

“Public education is about preparing all of our young people for the future, regardless of where their talents and interests may lie. For some students, that future will include a two- or four-year degree program; for others, it will include career training, an apprenticeship or a certificate program. Career and technical education provides hands-on learning and paves a pathway to a successful career, and CTE programs deserve our full support,” said Congressman Langevin.

“These programs effectively train workers for some of the most in-demand careers,” Congressman Thompson said. “The CTE Opportunity Act will ensure that students are no longer placed at a disadvantage compared to their peers at colleges and universities. This is about supporting all types of education and training to empower individuals to live up to their fullest potential,” Thompson added.

Additional information about bipartisan the legislation is available here.