Harder, Stefanik Introduce Bipartisan Success for Rural Students and Communities Act

March 23, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, Representatives Josh Harder (CA-10) and Elise Stefanik (NY-21) announced the introduction of the bipartisan Success for Rural Students and Communities Act. Despite high school graduation rates above the national average, rural students are less likely to both attend college and complete their degrees than students from suburban and urban areas. The bipartisan bill aims to 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 by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).


“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.”


Rep. 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."


“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.”


“We need to equip our students in rural areas with the tools to succeed in today’s economy,” Senator Hassan said. “Too many rural Granite Staters struggle with accessing higher education and finding jobs where they live. That is why I am glad to join Senator Susan Collins in introducing this bipartisan bill that uses innovative strategies to support these students, which in turn will also help our local economies thrive.”


The Success for Rural Student and Communities Act authorizes $60 million each year through FY 2027 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 support 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 postsecondary enrollment and 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.