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Friday, December 15, 2017

More Support for Credentialing Proposed

Not everyone needs to attend college to achieve their career goals, but increased federal support of occupational credentialing could be a viable alternative to the idea of the “free” four-year degrees that has been making headlines, according to a report from the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).

The report proposes making more federal support, such as Pell grants, available to students in credentialing programs. PPI suggests the move could provide workers with a debt-free path to the skills needed for economic security because many of the jobs that require a credential instead of a college degree can pay as much as $90,000 a year.

“The singleminded focus on college diminishes other equally viable paths to middle-class security—such as in health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and other skill professions—that require specialized occupational ‘credentials’ but no four-year degree,” Anne Kim, a senior fellow at PPI, wrote in the report.

Quality credentialing can also be an alternative for nontraditional students who have family and job obligations that make the commitment to full-time student status unrealistic. Credentialing courses often take just weeks or months to complete, helping workers who have been displaced get back into jobs and new careers.

The plan would extend student financial aid, including Pell grants, to high-quality credentialing programs and provide students with standardized information on the quality and value of credentialing options. The PPI plan would pay for the program through a new excise tax on elite university endowments.

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