Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon) held a July 12 roundtable in Beaverton at the Portland Community College Willow Creek Center to discuss a bill she reintroduced last month, H.R. 2659. The Opportunities for Success Act proposes providing financial aid to lower income students to participate in paid or unpaid internships.
The roundtable saw a wide-ranging discussion on the cost of higher education and the importance of student internships that facilitate a successful entry into the workforce. Roger Thompson, vice president for enrollment management, represented the university, joining stakeholders from the state’s institutions of higher education, students, employers, and members of the Oregon Student Association.
The bill proposes the creation of a grant program for Pell grant eligible students who want to take advantage of paid or unpaid internship opportunities but can’t afford it. The program will function similarly to other campus-based aid programs. Funds will be distributed by the Department of Education to eligible schools based on the proportion of Pell-eligible students at the school. The amount of the grant will vary based on the location of a student’s internship, the length of the internship, whether the internship is full-time or part-time, and whether the internship is paid or unpaid. In the case of a paid internship, a student may receive a stipend only if he or she would otherwise be unable to afford to participate in the internship.
Bonamici (BA ’80, JD ’83) represents Oregon’s 1st congressional district, which boasts a particularly large concentration of UO graduates living in Washington County, parts of Portland and the northwest tip of the state. She is a member of the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce.