Stefanik, Harder Introduce Success for Rural Students and Communities Act, Senators Collins, Hassan Lead in Senate

March 23, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Stefanik introduced the Success for Rural Students and Communities Act with Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) in the House, and Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Maggie Hassan (NH) are leading the legislation in the Senate. The Success for Rural Students and Communities Act authorizes $60 million in grants each year through fiscal year 2027 for rural communities across the country to spur innovation and investment, improve access to higher education for rural students, and prepare them to receive the credentials necessary to step into high-demand jobs in their communities.

Congresswoman Stefanik said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need to close the degree attainment gap between students from rural communities and their peers. The Success for Rural Students and Communities Act will bring local school districts together with institutions of higher education and economic organizations to ensure our North Country students have greater opportunity to enroll in college, receive their degree, and then contribute to our local economies by thriving in high-demand jobs."

Specifically, this bipartisan legislation would:

  • Increase postsecondary enrollment and completion rates for rural students by providing early supports such as counseling, exposure to higher education programs, access to dual enrollment courses, pathways to regional employment opportunities, and help with transitions to and from high school and higher education. 
  • Increase postsecondary enrollment and completion rates for adult students, including through community outreach and programs focused on degree completion and persistence.
  • Create or strengthen postsecondary programs and training opportunities in locally relevant fields, including by developing work-based learning and supporting associated costs, awarding prior-learning and competency-based credit, expanding career pathways to credentials, and engaging local employers and boards in developing programs and curricula.
  • Generate local and regional development strategies that create employment opportunities for students with postsecondary degrees, including by connecting local talent with local employers and addressing barriers to success. 

“Every kid, no matter where they’re from, deserves the same opportunity to pursue their dreams,” said Rep. Harder. “This bipartisan bill will make sure we give rural students the tools they need to enroll in higher education, get a degree, and make those dreams into reality. It’s time students in our Valley had the same access to higher ed as those growing up in the Bay.”

“In Maine, 90 percent of students graduate from high school, but only about 62 percent enroll in higher education right away. The urgent need to improve educational resources for students in rural America has been highlighted by the coronavirus crisis,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan bill encourages schools and employers to forge partnerships that will put students on pathways to the high-need jobs available where they live. I encourage our colleagues to join us in supporting this legislation that will connect rural students with educational and economic opportunities across the country.”