Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Congressman Josh Harder (CA-10) are introducing the Success for Rural Students and Communities Act, along with Reps. Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Filemon Vela (TX-34), and Billy Long (MO-07). This is bipartisan legislation that will improve college access and success for rural students by spurring innovation and investment in new strategies to prepare them to complete their credentials and step into high-demand jobs in their communities. A Senate companion bill was introduced earlier this year by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).
“The North Country is comprised of many rural school districts that have high graduation rates and students who are eager to enter the workforce,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which seeks to close the attainment gap that is present in many of our rural communities and economies. We must support our students by providing them with early support and information for higher education, create programs that offer students training locally, and work with local stakeholders to retain a skillful workforce. I will continue to work with my colleagues on initiatives like this bill to ensure our students have access to local opportunities and the support they need to seek them out.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re from a big city or a small town – every American should have the same opportunity to pursue their dreams whatever they are,” said Congressman Harder. “In addition to improving skills education opportunities, we need to emphasize college enrollment and completion for students from rural areas who face a lot of disadvantages when looking to attend college. This bipartisan bill will make sure we give rural students the tools they need to pursue higher education.”
"Over the last three decades, CFES Brilliant Pathways has helped 30,000 students from rural communities across the country become college and career ready,” said Rick Dalton, President and CEO of CFES Brilliant Pathways. “In recent years, we've seen our rural students slip behind their urban peers in aspirations and performance, and I applaud Congresswoman Stefanik for introducing a bill to help rural youth."
The Success for Rural Student and Communities Act authorizes demonstration grants to be awarded to stakeholder partnerships to support activities that accomplish several objectives:
- 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.
- Enhance credential attainment rates for non-traditional 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.