Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) issued the following statement after her bipartisan legislation, the Flexible Pell Grant for 21st Century Students Act, surpassed 50 cosponsors:

“I thank my colleagues for their support for this important legislation,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “As the first member of my immediately family to graduate from college, I know how important higher education is to ensuring our students are prepared to compete in a 21st century economy. This bipartisan legislation will give North Country students another tool to pay for their education, and I will continue to work in Congress and from my position on the Higher Education committee to pass this bill.”

Congresswoman Stefanik introduced the Flexible Pell Grant for 21st Century Students Act in the summer of 2015. By making Pell grants available year round, this bipartisan legislation will help students complete a postsecondary education more quickly and at a lower cost.

Student demographics have changed dramatically in recent decades. Whereas the majority of students used to enroll in a four-year, full-time program fresh out of high school, an increasing number of students – “contemporary students” – are older, have a family, and work full- or part-time jobs. These students are looking to quickly and affordably earn a degree that will help them compete and succeed in the workforce.

Unfortunately, outdated higher education programs do not meet the needs of contemporary students. For example, while the Pell Grant provides support for more than one-third of all undergraduate students, the program fails to adequately support those who want to complete their studies more quickly by taking additional courses beyond the traditional academic year. Instead, students who receive Pell Grants are bound to a rigid system based on a six-year, two-semester timeline – discouraging many students from pursing higher education altogether.